SREL Reprint #1893





Seasonal Variation in Clutch Size of the Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea

1Department of Zoology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA,
2Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA, and 3Department of Biology, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia 31207, USA.

Clutch size in sea turtles is generally reported in one of three manners. It is most often averaged over one or several nesting seasons (see Hirth, 1980 for review). However, clutch sizes may vary appreciably for iteroparous species that can deposit as many as 11 clutches a season, and patterns of variability are obscured by reporting only seasonal means. Clutch size trends are also documented by either following nesting histories of individual turtles or by comparing clutches chronologically, irrespective of the individuals that laid them (Frazer and Richardson, 1985a). Subsequent comparisons among studies are then confounded by the different methods first employed to ascertain the patterns. Thus, some authors report decreasing clutch sizes during the nesting season (Caldwell, 1959; Carr and Hirth, 1962; LeBuff and Beatty, 1971, Pritchard, 1971; Davis and Whiting, 1977; Marquez et al., 1982; Frazer and Richardson, 1985a; Mortimer and Carr, 1987), others report an increase (Kaufman, 1975; Bjorndal and Carr, 1989),while others report no significant change in either direction (Ehrhart, 1982).

SREL Reprint #1893

Tucker, A.D. and N.B. Frazer. 1994. Seasonal variation in clutch size of the turtle, Dermochelys coriacea. Journal of Herpetology 28:102-109.

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