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Reproduction of gopher tortoises gopherus polyphemus in southwestern georgia usa



Reproduction of gopher tortoises gopherus polyphemus in southwestern georgia usa



Herpetologica 36(4): 353-361



Reproduction of gopher tortoises (G. polyphemus) was studied during 1978 and 1979 in southwestern Georgia. Mating was observed during April, May and early June when females were most receptive but courtship by males continued through fall. Nesting peaked during the first 2 wk in June. Of 73 unprotected nests, 65 were destroyed (usually by mammals) shortly after laying. Clutch size was 4-12 (.hivin.x = 7.0) and was correlated with plastron length of females. Eggs with above average mass had a greater probability of hatching and yielded larger young. The incubation period averaged 102 days. body size of mature females, clutch size and masses and dimensions of eggs were significantly larger than those reported from Florida [USA]. Each mature female nested no more than once annually and was successful in producing young an average of only once in about 10 yr. The extremely low reproductive rate is probably a major factor limiting the recovery of depleted populations of gopher tortoises.

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