Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Turtle Vocalizations as the First Evidence of Posthatching Parental Care in Chelonians - via Herp Digest

Journal of Comparative Psychology
1) Camila R. Ferrara, Richard C. Vogt, and 2) Renata S. Sousa-Lima
Online First Publication, October 22, 2012. doi: 10.1037/a0029656

Ferrara, C. R., Vogt, R. C., & Sousa-Lima, R. S. (2012, October 22). Turtle Vocalizations as the First Evidence of Posthatching Parental Care in Chelonians. Journal of Comparative Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029656

1) Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, Brazil
Renata S. Sousa-Lima
2) Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte and Cornell Lab
of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

Until recently, freshwater turtles were thought to be silent reptiles, neither vocalizing nor hearing very well. We recorded individuals in nature, captivity, and during interactions between adults and hatchlings and show that hatchlings and adult turtles, Podocnemis expansa, produce sounds in and out of the water. Sounds were emitted by hatchlings inside the egg, in open nests, in the river, and in captive conditions.Adult females were recorded producing sounds in the river, while basking, while nesting, and in captivity. Females were recorded in the river approaching and responding to hatchling sounds. We detected 2,122 sounds, classified in 11 different types. These data suggest that there is sound communication between adults and hatchings and that these sounds may be used to congregate hatchlings with adults for mass migration. Hatchlings and females with transmitters were found migrating together. We consider these findings as the first evidence of acoustic communication mediating posthatching parental care in chelonians. We anticipate that our findings will influence the way turtle behavior is studied and interpreted, and add communication and sound pollution to turtle conservation concerns.

Keywords: turtles, sound, parental care, giant South American river turtle, Podocnemis exp

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Richard C. Vogt, Coordenação de Pesquisa em Biologia de Água Doce e Pesca Interior, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Caixa Postal 478, Manaus, AM, Brazil 69083-000. E-mail: and

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