Body size, age distribution, and reproduction in a northern population of wood turtles (Clemmys insculpta)

Ronald J. Brooks, Cathy M. Shilton, Gregory P. Brown, Norman W. S. Quinn

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71 Citations (Scopus)


A population of the wood turtle (Clemmys insculpta) was studied on the east side of Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, from 1987 to 1990. A total of 77 adults (56 females, 21 males) and 13 juveniles were captured, measured, and individually marked. Age at maturity was 17–18 years at a minimum carapace length of 185 mm for females and 199 mm for males. Our data supported the hypothesis that turtles in northern populations are larger and older at maturity than are those in southern populations. For 21 nests, mean clutch size was 8.8 eggs and egg mass was 96 g. Predators destroyed 15 of 17 nests in 1990, and had injured 60% of adult turtles observed. Therefore, our population had low recruitment, few juveniles, and high levels of predation on nests and adults. Comparisons among females refuted two predictions from optimal egg size theory. Mean width and mass, but not length, of eggs correlated positively with female size, and correlated positively with clutch size, even after effects of body size were removed by partial correlation. However, smaller females in the population had relatively longer eggs than did larger females, whereas the Algonquin females have absolutely smaller eggs than do much smaller females in a New Jersey population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-469
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1992
Externally publishedYes


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