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An overview of same-sex mounting in turtles and tortoises

Abstract

Same-sex mounting is an aspect of animal behavior that has received increased attention in recent years in an attempt to improve our limited understanding of the possible causal mechanisms. Here, to our knowledge, we review for the first time same-sex mounting in turtles and tortoises. To this end, we have compiled data on same-sex mounts in 13 chelonian species and discuss the data together with those hypotheses most commonly raised in turtle studies, namely, the intrasexual conflict, maladaptation, mistaken identify, and opposite-sex deprivation hypotheses. Compilation of the data revealed that in almost every species with reports of same-sex mounting there were dominance relationships mediated by aggressive/submissive interactions; most of these cases occurred in captivity, and the sex ratios were not skewed. We discuss future research directions, providing initial ideas of experimental testing on each hypothesis, in the hope of directing more research effort to this field.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Flávio de Barros Molina, Rod Preston-Mafham, and John Iverson for kindly scanning and providing manuscripts; Hai-tao Shi for providing unpublished data; Adriano Rodrigues de Paula for kindly helping with interpreting the German in some texts; Kayla M. Peck for kindly reviewing the English of the paper; all the anonymous reviewers that provided interesting suggestions to the manuscript. We also thank Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for fellowship support during the year of this study.

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Correspondence to João Fabrício Mota Rodrigues.

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Rodrigues, J.F.M., Liu, Y. An overview of same-sex mounting in turtles and tortoises. J Ethol 34, 133–137 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-015-0456-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-015-0456-2

Keywords

  • Chelonians
  • Homosexual mounts
  • Intrasexual conflicts
  • Mistaken identity
  • Opposite-sex deprivation