The effects of climate on annual variation in reproductive output in snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina)

A. R. Hedrick, H. M. Klondaris, L. C. Corichi, M. J. Dreslik, J. B. Iverson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reptiles are highly dependent on climatic patterns to regulate their behavior and physiology, and studies of the effects of climate on the biology of organisms are increasingly important given expected climate change. Our study examined the effects of climate variation over 15 of the 26 years between 1990 and 2015 on the reproductive output of the Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina (Linnaeus, 1758)). Egg mass, clutch size, and clutch mass (relative to body size) were significantly higher in years following warmer temperatures in September and October of the year before reproduction, but not related to temperatures in April and May just before reproduction. Of the above life-history traits, egg mass varied the least across years, and after warm autumns small turtles (225–285mmcarapace length) increased clutch mass by increasing clutch size but not egg mass. In contrast, under the same conditions, large turtles increased clutch mass by increasing egg mass but not clutch size. Our data suggest optimal egg mass may vary with female size. Climate change may already have impacted reproductive output in Snapping Turtles at the site because temperatures during September and October have increased about 0.5°C each decade for the last 45 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian journal of zoology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


  • Annual variation
  • Chelydra serpentina
  • Climate change
  • Clutch mass
  • Clutch size
  • Egg mass
  • Snapping Turtle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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