SREL Reprint #0384




Enhanced Growth and Increase Body Size of Turtles Living in Thermal and Post-Thermal Aquatic Systems

E. Jennifer Christy, James O. Farlow, Joseph E. Bourque, and J. Whitfield Gibbons



Population size structure and individual growth rates of the yellow-bellied turtle (Pseudemys scripta) were examined from four distinct types of habitat:  (1) areas that receive no thermal loading and therefore have normal water temperatures; (2) aquatic areas receiving heated effluents; (3) post-thermal recovery habitats that once received intense thermal loading but no longer do so; and (4) a chemically polluted pond.  Both the nutrient balance and the community structure have been drastically altered from the natural state in these thermally and chemically altered environments.  Adult turtles from the thermal and post-thermal areas attained significantly larger body sizes than those from natural habitats.  In addition, individual turtles from the thermally and chemically influenced habitats grew faster than those in the natural areas.  Changes in growth rates and body sizes resulted from direct and/or indirect thermal and chemical alterations; post-thermal environments continued to reflect such changes for as much as 9 years after the last thermal input.


SREL Reprint #0384

Christy, E.J., J.O. Farlow, J.E. Bourque, and J.W. Gibbons. 1974. Enhanced growth and increased body size of turtles living in thermal and post thermal aquatic systems. p. 277-284. In Thermal Ecology, edited by J.W. Gibbons and R.R. Sharitz. CONF 730505. Atomic Energy Commission.

To request a reprint