The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

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pdf 06.Temporal partitioning of hatching, maturation, and surface activity by reptiles in Florida longleaf pine-wiregrass sandhills


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pp. 130-141


Authors: Sky T. Button, Cathryn H. Greenberg & James D. Austin


Abstract: Temporal partitioning of life history traits among syntopic reptiles can facilitate co-occurrence, but may be influenced by environmental factors and evolutionary history. We used 24 years of continuous capture data in the Florida sandhills to evaluate the timing and duration of hatching, maturation and/or surface activity for ten reptile species, spanning multiple clutch strategies, taxonomic relationships, and habits. We hypothesised: i) species would differ in seasonal timing of hatching and maturation; ii) hatching and maturation periods would be more seasonally-synchronised in fossorial than terrestrial or semi-aquatic reptiles; iii) monthly and annual temperature anomalies would be positively related to hatching, maturation, and surface activity anomalies, and iv) groupings of reptiles by clutch strategy, taxonomic relationship, and habit, would explain more variation in the timing and duration of hatching and maturation than species alone. Seasonal timing of response variables varied widely among species. Hatching peaked for > 1 species during most calendar months. Maturation and surface activity periods ranged from aseasonal to highly-seasonal among species. Hatching began 1.5 months earlier and was more prolonged for terrestrial than fossorial species overall. Hatching peaked in early to mid-summer for terrestrial and fossorial species, and winter for the semi-aquatic Kinosternon subrubrum. Terrestrial and fossorial species did not differ in average timing, duration, or overlap of maturation periods; semi-aquatic Liodytes pygaea matured more consistently across all seasons than other species. Monthly temperature anomalies were negatively correlated with monthly maturation for Plestiodon egregius. Annual temperature and precipitation anomalies were related to annual hatching, maturation, and surface activity trends for several species. Taxonomic relationship, habit, and species explained some variation in hatching and maturation timing and duration. Our results illustrate the influence of environment and evolutionary relationships on the timing of important life history traits. 


Keywords: Age class, Drift fence, Community, Interspecific, Life history


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