Term of Award

Fall 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Committee Chair

David Rostal

Committee Member 1

John Scott Harrison

Committee Member 2

Johanne Lewis


Post hatching growth rates in tortoises can affect size at sexual maturity This study looks at what affect clutch and sex has on hatchling tortoises from these two sites as this data is lacking/insufficient from two populations in Southeast Georgia. Eggs were allowed to incubate in natural nests and then were collected between August 19-21, 2015 and hatched in an incubator in the lab. When they hatched, the tortoises were kept in a single room with a rearing temperature that averaged 26.9° C. Sex was determined using laparoscopy at the end of the study to ensure gonad development and to reduce stress throughout the study. Preferred body temperature was determined using a thermal gradient the first summer after hatching. Clutch had a significant effect on growth rate of mass and straight carapace length (F(1,68) = 2.9491, p < 0.0002; F(12,57) = 3.08347, p < 0.0021) while sex did not. Clutch and sex had no effect on preferred Tb in the lab. Preferred body temperature for the tortoises averaged 30.14° C ± 0.6364° The significant maternal effects on growth rates could be an effect on the genotype of these tortoises or an effect caused by egg quality as a result of maternal investment into the egg.

Research Data and Supplementary Material