Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 183-193

First online:

Effects of incubation temperature on growth and development of embryos ofAlligator mississippiensis

  • D. C. DeemingAffiliated withDepartment of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Manchester
  • , M. W. J. FergusonAffiliated withDepartment of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Manchester

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Eggs ofAlligator mississippiensis were incubated at 30 °C and 33 °C throughout incubation up to hatching. Every four days several eggs were opened and the albumen, yolk and extra-embryonic fluids removed and weighed. The embryo was removed and fixed prior to being staged, weighted and measured for various morphometric criteria. Development at 33 °C was accelerated compared with 30 °C in terms of yolk and albumen utilization and embryo growth. Significant losses in yolk mass did not occur until stage 22 at 33 °C but occurred at stage 18 at 30 °C. Different patterns in growth were observed in embryos at the two temperatures at similar morphological stages: between stages 18 and 22 embryos at 33 °C were smaller (in mass and length) compared with embryos at 30 °C despite being morphologically similar. The differences in growth and physiology between embryos at 30 °C (females) and 33 °C (males) were dependent on incubation temperature but not sex. Incubation at 33 °C accelerated both growth and development inAlligator; initially morphogenesis was accelerated by the higher temperature but later, growth rate was accelerated.

Key words

Crocodilians Morphometrics Extra-embryonic fluids Growth sex determination