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Varying Hydric Conditions during Incubation Influence Egg Water Exchange and Hatchling Phenotype in the Red-Eared Slider Turtle

Abstract : Environmental conditions within the nest, notably temperature and moisture of substrate, exert a powerful influence during embryogenesis in oviparous reptiles. The influence of fluctuating nest temperatures has been experimentally examined in different reptile species; however, similar experiments using moisture as the key variable are lacking. In this article, we examine the effect of various substrate moisture regimes during incubation on different traits (egg mass, incubation length, and hatchling mass) in a chelonian species with lexible-shelled eggs, the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Our results show that the rate of water uptake by the eggs was higher in wet than in dry substrate and varied across development. More important, during the first third of development, the egg mass changes were relatively independent of the soil moisture level; they became very sensitive to moisture levels during the other two-thirds. Moreover, hydric conditions exerted a strong influence on the eggs' long-term sensitivity to the moisture of the substrate. Even short-term episodes of high or low levels of moisture modified permanently their water sensitivity, notably through modification of eggshell shape and volume, and in turn entailed significant effects on hatchling mass (and hence offspring quality). Such complex influences of fluctuating moisture levels at various incubation stages on hatchling phenotype better reflect the natural situation, compared to experiments based on stable, albeit different, moisture levels.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00286371
Contributor : Martine Lacalle Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, June 9, 2008 - 11:53:02 AM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 11:48:18 AM

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Virginie Delmas, Xavier Bonnet, Marc Girondot, Anne-Caroline Prévot-Julliard. Varying Hydric Conditions during Incubation Influence Egg Water Exchange and Hatchling Phenotype in the Red-Eared Slider Turtle. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, University of Chicago Press, 2008, 81 (3), pp.345-355. ⟨10.1086/529459⟩. ⟨hal-00286371⟩

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