Scutation asymmetries in red-footed tortoise Chelonoidis carbonaria Spix, 1824 (Testudines: Testudinidae)
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The ability of an individual to withstand random perturbations during its development is considered a good indicator of environmental and genetic stress. A common means of assessing developmental stability is through analysis of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) in bilateral traits. Tortoises, with their large, solid plastron, allow for measurement of body geometry. Their bilateral shell scutes are ideal candidates for asymmetries researches. With this issue in mind we assessed, as a preliminary study, levels of plastron scute asymmetry in a sample of 46 red-footed tortoise Chelonoidis carbonaria from Arauca, N Colombia. We found significative fluctuating asymmetry (FA) but no directional asymmetry, the former not increasing with carapace size and thus indicating that tortoise shells do not become increasingly asymmetrical with age, or in other words, signaling that FA is not being influenced by pholidosis (variability of scale cover mosaic according to the development of the scutes). Asymmetry in plastron shape, although not necessarily apparent at first glance, varied, with gender with males exhibiting higher levels of FA than females. Although we can not identify the potential sources of variation responsible for the observed patterns of developmental instability, we consider this detected form of asymmetry due to unfavorable environmental conditions.
Is part ofPapéis Avulsos de Zoologia, 2020, vol. 60, num. e20206039, p. 1-6
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