Sexual dimorphism in the claws of the European terrapin (<em>Emys orbicularis</em>): potential implications for the reproductive fitness of the species.

  • Gonzalo Alarcos C/Castañal, nº10. 49321, Zamora, Spain
  • Jaime Madrigal-González Grupo de Ecología Forestal y Restauración, Universidad de Alcalá (UAH), Campus de Ciencias, E-28801, Alcalá de Henares, Spain.
  • Miguel Lizana Departamento de Biología Animal, Universidad de Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno. 37007, Salamanca, Spain.
  • Fabio Flechoso Departamento de Biología Animal, Universidad de Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno. 37007, Salamanca, Spain.
Keywords: Claw, dimorphism, Emys orbicularis, Spain, mate selection, terrapin

Abstract

There are many biometric differences between the males and females of the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) as regards their size, colouring, the shape of the plastron, tail, etc. The males use their claws to grasp the female during copulation and hence sexual selection should favour the males that have larger claws, which allow them to grasp the female better. Here, we address this type of sexual dimorphism in a comparative analysis of indices obtained from claw length, the length of the carapace and the locality where individuals were sampled. The results show that the curvature of the claws differs between the two sexes, being longer in males and increasing with age, size, and hence, the state of sexual maturity, than in females. Greater claw length could confer advantages for males when grasping the carapace of females, and hence, improve their reproductive fitness. Importance in the reproductive success that might have this feature in males could originate future studies that will relate the shape, thickness, length and other measures of the claws in males with their reproductive success in different populations, genetic variety, and most importantly, viability of populations. 

Published
2019-05-28
Section
Research Papers