AbstractIt is generally assumed that ectothermic vertebrates show a reversed Bergmann’s cline, but several studies suggest the opposite for turtles. Here, we assess this issue using the widely distributed European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), which displays strong geographic size variation. We tested carapace lengths of more than 2000 individuals from the entire distribution range against latitude and climatic factors and estimated the effects of those on female-specific traits such as clutch size and frequency. Also, we compared our data against Pleistocene (Eemian) E. orbicularis from Germany. Regional fluctuations of temperature and precipitation are better predictors of body size than latitudinal temperature clines, especially in females. In addition, female body size, activity period and nesting season might be correlated, as small southern females lay several smaller clutches per season, whereas larger-bodied northern females produce only a single large clutch. In conclusion, although climatic conditions appear to have an effect on the body size of E. orbicularis, the species does not follow Bergmann’s rule. Moreover, comparison of extant and fossil E. orbicularis from Germany revealed that fossil pond turtles were generally smaller than extant conspecifics from the same region.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society – Oxford University Press
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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