Intrasexual variation in courtship behavior is common but the potential for such variation within turtles has not been considered. Forty-seven behavioral trials with wild-captured slider turtles (Trachemys scripta) were conducted throughout the local season of activity for this species (April–October). The frequency of occurrence, seasonality, and directionality of courtship behaviors (i.e., biting, chasing, and titillation) performed by melanistic and nonmelanistic males were examined. I tested the hypotheses that the expression of these behaviors during the mating season (late August to mid-October) would differ between melanistic and nonmelanistic male T. scripta and that melanistic and nonmelanistic males would differ with respect to their precopulatory display rates. Biting, chasing, and titillation directed toward females by melanistic and nonmelanistic male T. scripta during the mating season were significantly different. Courtship behaviors (i.e., precopulatory displays) were not always performed prior to copulation attempts and melanistic males performed courtship behaviors prior to such attempts more frequently than did nonmelanistic males. These differences may represent a conditional strategy involving size-dependent alternative mating tactics with larger melanistic males adopting tactics that involve a greater precopulatory display rate coupled with biting and chasing behaviors. The smaller nonmelanistic males adopt tactics that involve titillation behaviors and a lower precopulatory display rate.

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