Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Reproductive Ecology of Pseudemys floridana and Trachemys scripta (Testudines: Emydidae) in Northwestern Florida

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2004
Authors:Aresco, MJ
Journal:Journal of Herpetology
Date Published:2004
ISBN Number:00221511
Keywords:Fulica, Fulica atra, Rallidae
Abstract:The Cooter, Pseudemys floridana, and the Pond Slider, Trachemys scripta, are two abundant freshwater turtles in the southeastern United States, but little is known of their reproductive ecology in northwestern Florida. I studied their nesting phenology and behavior, clutch size and frequency, rates of nest predation, and hatchling overwintering behavior from 2001-2003 at Lake Jackson, Leon County, Florida. Both species nested from mid-April to mid-July with peaks in May (47% of P. floridana and 55% of T. scripta nests). All 43 nests of P. floridana had a central chamber and two side holes. Nest predation on both species was high and may have been caused by a combination of artificial habitats (road-side and drift fences). Mammalian predators and imported red fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) destroyed all or part of 99 nests (98%; P. floridana, N = 30; T. scripta, N = 69) found at drift fences. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) destroyed eggs in all three chambers in 24 of 26 nests of P. floridana. Mean clutch size for P. floridana was 12.4 eggs and female size and clutch size were positively related. Mean clutch size for T. scripta was 6.6 eggs. There was a weak positive relationship between female size and clutch size of T. scripta. Some hatchling P. floridana and T. scripta emerged from mid-July to early October in the year of oviposition, whereas others remained in nests for up to 10 months and emerged from February to May in the following year. A review of published literature reveals that some reproductive traits, such as nesting season, that vary geographically in P. floridana do not vary substantially among populations of T. scripta. Geographic variation in some reproductive characteristics of P. floridana is apparently the result of a gradient in temperature whereas others (e.g., unique behavioral traits) may be adaptations to past or present regional conditions.
Short Title:Journal of Herpetology
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith