Reproductive patterns of European pond turtles differ between sites: a small scale scenario

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
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  • 1 Museo di Storia Naturale, Università di Pisa, via Roma 79, I-56011 Calci (Pisa), Italy
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From 1996 to 2002, we studied the body size, measures of reproductive strategy (relative clutch mass and delayed reproduction at sexual maturity), and reproductive output (clutch frequency and annual egg production) of female European Pond turtles, Emys orbicularis, at two sites separated by 12 km in central Mediterranean Tuscany (San Rossore and Camp Darby, central northern Italy). Females did not reproduce at the first appearance of external sexual characters, but reproduced at larger sizes, probably as older turtles. Among years, reproductive females were more common than were non-reproductive females, yet both groups had similar body sizes. Body size (carapace length and width, plastron length and width, shell height and body mass) varied between localities and among years. Body size differed between reproductive and non reproductive females in Camp Darby, but not in San Rossore females. Shell volume did not vary among years, nor between localities, nor between reproductive status. Reproductive females had higher body condition indices (BCI) than did non-reproductive females, while BCI did not differ between females laying one clutch and females laying multiple clutches. Clutch size did not vary among years. One clutch per year was much more frequent than multiple clutches, and multiple clutches were more frequent in Camp Darby than in San Rossore females, likely due to differences in population structures between sites.

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