Evol Ecol Res 6: 739-747 (2004)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Developmental environment has long-lasting effects on behavioural performance in two turtles with environmental sex determination

Steven Freedberg,* Amanda L. Stumpf, Michael A. Ewert and Craig E. Nelson

Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-3700, USA

Address all correspondence to Steven Freedberg, Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA.
e-mail: sf4s@virginia.edu


Charnov and Bull (1977) originally predicted that environmental sex determination (ESD) can evolve when the developmental environment differentially affects male and female fitness. While developmental temperature is known to affect hatchling performance in reptiles with ESD, this reaction norm can provide the conditions to favour ESD only if the effects are long-lasting. We incubated eggs of Graptemys ouachitensis, an emydid turtle with ESD, at temperatures previously found to affect hatchling righting response. We tested righting response in both hatchlings and turtles raised in the laboratory for 1 year, and also examined the effects of testing temperature and social interactions on righting response. Turtles incubated at 30°C righted more quickly than turtles incubated at 25°C both as hatchlings and yearlings, and this effect was robust to testing temperature or rearing conditions. We found a similar reaction norm of temperature on righting response in Trachemys scripta elegans, another emydid turtle with ESD. These results demonstrate that incubation temperature can have long-lasting effects on performance in reptiles with ESD, and may provide the conditions required to favour the evolution of ESD.

Keywords: differential fitness model, Graptemys ouachitensis, righting response, temperature-dependent sex determination, turtle.

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