Temporal partitioning of hatching, maturation, and surface activity by reptiles in Florida longleaf pine-wiregrass sandhills

Abstract

Temporal partitioning of life history traits among syntopic reptiles can facilitate co-occurrence, but may be influenced by
environmental factors and evolutionary history. We used 24 years of continuous capture data in the Florida sandhills to
evaluate the timing and duration of hatching, maturation and/or surface activity for ten reptile species, spanning multiple
clutch strategies, taxonomic relationships, and habits. We hypothesised: i) species would differ in seasonal timing of hatching
and maturation; ii) hatching and maturation periods would be more seasonally-synchronised in fossorial than terrestrial or
semi-aquatic reptiles; iii) monthly and annual temperature anomalies would be positively related to hatching, maturation, and
surface activity anomalies, and iv) groupings of reptiles by clutch strategy, taxonomic relationship, and habit, would explain
more variation in the timing and duration of hatching and maturation than species alone. Seasonal timing of response variables
varied widely among species. Hatching peaked for > 1 species during most calendar months. Maturation and surface activity
periods ranged from aseasonal to highly-seasonal among species. Hatching began 1.5 months earlier and was more prolonged
for terrestrial than fossorial species overall. Hatching peaked in early to mid-summer for terrestrial and fossorial species, and
winter for the semi-aquatic Kinosternon subrubrum. Terrestrial and fossorial species did not differ in average timing, duration,
or overlap of maturation periods; semi-aquatic Liodytes pygaea matured more consistently across all seasons than other
species. Monthly temperature anomalies were negatively correlated with monthly maturation for Plestiodon egregius. Annual
temperature and precipitation anomalies were related to annual hatching, maturation, and surface activity trends for several
species. Taxonomic relationship, habit, and species explained some variation in hatching and maturation timing and duration.
Our results illustrate the influence of environment and evolutionary relationships on the timing of important life history traits.

  • Citation: Button, Sky T. 2022. Temporal partitioning of hatching, maturation, and surface activity by reptiles in Florida longleaf pine-wiregrass sandhills. The Herpetological Journal. 32(3): 130-141. https://doi.org/10.33256/32.3.130141.
  • Keywords: Age class, Drift fence, Community, Interspecific, Life history, Reptile
  • Posted Date: August 17, 2022
  • Modified Date: August 18, 2022
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