Abstract

In many freshwater turtle species, increasing adult female body size is accompanied by increases in both clutch size and egg size. Because clutch size and egg size represent competing sinks for the increasing abdominal space that can be devoted to reproductive potential as a female grows larger, both are hypoallometrically related to body size, i.e., each increases at less than the rate at which body size is increasing. I studied the reproductive allometry of 2 species of the map turtle and sawback genus (Emydidae: Graptemys) in syntopy in the Alabama River. Relative to congeners, Graptemys nigrinoda is a small-bodied species and Graptemys pulchra is a large-bodied species. In the study populations, adult female G. pulchra were on average 23% larger in plastron length and 125% larger in body mass and there was no overlap in size. Both species had positive but hypoallometric relationships of both clutch size and egg size with body size, a pattern reported for 3 congeners previously, thus further demonstrating the competing sinks of increases in both variables and refuting the optimal egg size hypothesis. For interspecific comparisons using analysis of covariance, there was no significant effect of species on clutch size after accounting for the effect of plastron length. The effect of species on egg width and width of the pelvic aperture was significant, with G. pulchra having relatively wider eggs and pelvic apertures, perhaps related to the more domed carapace and larger body sizes of their hatchlings. Compared with 3 congeners, the 2 Alabama River species had relatively small clutches of relatively large eggs. Latitudinal effects on reproductive output may be important in Graptemys, with more-northerly populations tending toward larger clutches of smaller eggs. There is a need to analyze more data from more populations with log-log analyses of reproductive allometry to confirm the trend. There is also a need to consider shape allometry in future analyses; in particular, the hypoallometry of both shell height and shell width relative to shell length.

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