Aquatic and terrestrial locomotor performance of juvenile three-keeled pond turtles acclimated to different temperatures

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Locomotion is important for behaviors such as foraging and predator avoidance, and is influenced by temperature in ectotherms. To investigate this in turtles, we acclimated juvenile Chinese three-keeled pond turtles, Chinemys reevesii, under three thermal conditions for four weeks. Subsequently, we measured three locomotor performances (swimming, running, and righting) at different test temperatures. Overall, swimming and running speeds of turtles increased with increasing test temperature in the range of 13-33°C and decreased at higher test temperatures, whereas righting time decreased with increasing test temperature in the range of 13-33°C and slightly increased at higher test temperatures. Acclimation temperature affected both swimming and running speeds, with the high temperature-acclimated turtles swimming and running faster than low temperature-acclimated turtles, but it did not affect righting performance. From the constructed thermal performance curves, between-group differences were found in the estimated maximal speed (swimming and running) and optimal temperature, but not in the performance breadth. Juvenile turtles acclimated to relatively warm temperatures had better performances than those acclimated to cool temperatures, supporting the “hotter is better” hypothesis. A similar acclimatory change was found during aquatic and terrestrial locomotion in juvenile C. reevesii. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that animals from less thermally variable environments should have a greater acclimatory ability than those from more variable environments, because turtles were acclimated under aquatic environments with no thermal variability.



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  • Mean values (±SE) for locomotor (swimming, running and righting) performances of juvenile Chinemys reevesii acclimated to different temperatures.

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  • Mean values (±SE) for thermal performance curve parameters of juvenile Chinemys reevesii acclimated to different temperatures.

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