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Life Sciences - Animal Sciences | The Reproductive Biology of the Chelonia

The Reproductive Biology of the Chelonia

Series: Zoophysiology, Vol. 38

Kuchling, Gerald

Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1999, XI, 223 pp. 87 figs..

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  • The author has been studying for more than 15 years the reproductive biology of some uncommon species of tortoises and turtles and has solved many problems with captive breeding of the world's most endangered chelonian species
I had the good fortune to first meet Gerald Kuchling in 1985 when attending a conference held at the CNRS research centre, the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques des Animaux Sauvages (CEBAS), which is a wonderful scientific field station tucked away in the Foret de Chize, not far from the southwest town of Niort in France. The topic of the meeting, which included many invited overseas scientists, was "Physiological Regulations as Adaptive Mechanisms", and it was superbly organised by Ivan Assenmacher and Jean Boissin who together edited the impor­ tant volume of papers published from the meeting. My stay in Chize was, unfor­ tunately, cut short as the wife of a very close colleague died on the night of the first day of the meeting and I had to return to Paris to assist with the funeral -but not before I had the chance to meet and talk with Gerald. He was presenting some of his work on a terrestrial tortoise (or turtle depending upon one's origins) - Testudo hermanni - a species that is now extremely rare in France but still relatively abundant in the then Yugoslavia. Gerald had been working in Yugoslavia, collecting blood samples from both males and females in an attempt to decipher details of its reproductive biology.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Chelonia - Herpetologie - Reproduktionsbiologie - Schildkröten - captive breeding - chelonia - comparative endocrinology - ecology - herpetology - reproductive biology - testudines - wildlife biology - Ökologie

Related subjects » Animal Sciences - Ecology

Table of contents 

1 Introduction.- 1.1 Phylogeny.- 1.1.1 The Chelonian Bauplan.- 1.1.2 Fossil History and Evolution.- 1.1.3 Systematics and Biogeography.- 1.1.4 Body Size.- 1.2 Chelonian Reproductive Traits Compared with Other Reptiles.- 1.3 Anatomy of the Sexual Organs.- 1.3.1 Males.- 1.3.2 Females.- 1.4 Secondary Sexual Characteristics.- 2 Methods to Study Reproduction.- 2.1 Radiography.- 2.2 Ultra-sound Scanning.- 2.3 Laparoscopy and Biopsies.- 2.4 Blood Sampling.- 2.5 Considerations Regarding Captive Maintenance.- 3 Gonadal Cycles and Gamete Production.- 3.1 Sexual Maturity.- 3.2 Ovarian Cycle and Egg Production.- 3.2.1 Oogenesis and Folliculogenesis.- 3.2.2 Vitellogenesis.- 3.2.3 Oocyte Maturation and Ovulation.- 3.2.4 Luteal Phase.- 3.2.5 Oviducal Period.- 3.2.6 Regression and Follicular Atresia.- 3.3 Testicular Cycle and Sperm Production.- 3.3.1 Germinal Quiescence.- 3.3.2 Gonial Proliferation.- 3.3.3 Spermatocytogenesis.- 3.3.4 Spermiogenesis.- 3.3.5 Spermiation.- 3.3.6 Maturation and Storage of Sperm in the Epididymis.- 3.4 Accessory Secretions and Insemination.- 3.5 Sperm Storage in the Female Genital Tract.- 4 Reproductive Behaviour.- 4.1 Migration.- 4.2 Sexual Behaviour.- 4.2.1 Timing of Mating.- 4.2.2 Finding a Partner.- 4.2.3 Courtship and Copulation.- 4.2.4 Sexual Selection and Sexual Size Dimorphism.- 4.3 Nesting.- 4.3.1 Nesting Area and Selection of Nest Site.- 4.3.2 Conditions for Nesting.- 4.3.3 Preparation of Nest Site.- 4.3.4 Digging the Nest Hole.- 4.3.5 Oviposition.- 4.3.6 Covering the Nest.- 4.3.7 Nest Guarding.- 4.4 Emergence from the Nest.- 5 Reproductive Cycles and Environment.- 5.1 Temperate Zone.- 5.2 Tropical and Subtropical Zone.- 5.3 Multi-Year Reproductive Cycles.- 5.4 Unpredictable Habitats.- 5.5 Conclusions.- 6 Control of Reproduction.- 6.1 Exogenous Factors.- 6.1.1 Temperature and Photoperiod.- 6.1.2 Water Levels, Rain and Moisture.- 6.1.3 Food Availability.- 6.1.4 Social Factors and Population Density.- 6.2 Endogenous Timing Mechanisms.- 6.3 Effects of Stress on Reproduction.- 6.4 Conclusions.- 7 Hormones and Reproduction.- 7.1 Gonadal Steroids.- 7.1.1 Males.- 7.1.2 Females.- 7.2 Gonadotropins.- 7.3 Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone.- 7.4 Pineal Hormones.- 7.5 Other Hormones.- 7.6 Hormones and Behaviour.- 7.7 Conclusions.- 8 Eggs and Embryonic Development.- 8.1 Egg Characteristics.- 8.1.1 Eggshell.- 8.1.2 Egg Contents.- 8.2 Development and Hatching.- 8.2.1 Development Rates and Incubation Times.- 8.2.2 Descriptive Embryology.- 8.2.3 Pipping and Hatching.- 8.3 Sex Determination.- 8.4 Effect of Incubation Environment on Neonates.- 9 Reproductive Patterns and Life History.- 9.1 Resource Allocation.- 9.1.1 Growth and Maturity.- 9.1.2 Egg Size, Clutch Size and Clutch Frequency.- 9.1.3 Reproductive Effort and Cost of Reproduction.- 9.1.4 Mortality, Longevity and Ageing.- 9.1.5 Somatic Repair.- 9.2 Population Structure and Dynamics.- 10 Threats, Reproduction and Conservation.- 10.1 Environmental Degradation.- 10.1.1 Case Study: Pseudemydura umbrina.- 10.2 Exploitation.- 10.2.1 Case Study: Erymnochelys madagascariensis.- 10.3 Conservation Strategies.- 10.3.1 Conservation of Wild Populations.- 10.3.2 Sustainable Use.- 10.3.3 Conservation in Captivity.- 10.3.4 Case Study: Pseudemydura umbrina.- 10.3.5 Case Study: Erymnochelys madagascariensis.- 10.4 Commercial Captive Breeding Operations.- 10.5 Risk Minimisation in Assessing Reproduction in Live Chelonians.- 10.5.1 Risks and Limitations of Currently Used Methods.- 10.5.2 Routine Screening of Reproductive Condition.- 11 Conclusions and Outlook.- References.- Systematic Index.

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