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Vocalization and sexual preference in the taxonomy of Brazilian Testudinidae

Grant number: 12/04937-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2012
Effective date (End): December 31, 2012
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Taxonomy of Recent Groups
Principal researcher:Claudia Regina Bonini Domingos
Grantee:Tayrone Luis Coltro Pereira
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências, Letras e Ciências Exatas (IBILCE). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de São José do Rio Preto. São José do Rio Preto , SP, Brazil


The order Testudines is an important group in taxonomic studies to possess unique phylogenetic history, since they retain characteristics highly conserved throughout evolution. This family is represented exclusively by land animals, and has approximately 40 species. Chelonoidis carbonaria, popularly known as red foot tortoise, has convex carapace with gray to brown or black with yellow or red symmetrical designs. and displays throughout its distribution, a morphotype, here in after Chelonoidis carbonaria *. The species Chelonoidis denticulata popularly known as yellow foot tortoise has the head and feet yellow scales and black nose. The species C. denticulata occurs in tropical forests, while C. carbonaria is found in a wider range of environments, including dry forests and areas of forest vegetation in savannas. However, in many places, these species occur in sympatry, especially in regions of transition between forest and savanna. The Amazon Rainforest allows gene flow between populations of C. denticulata, establishing genetically homogenous populations. In the case of C. carbonaria, preferably by inhabiting open areas may have evolved by vicariance process, resulting in populations with different genetic structure. Reported the existence of populations of C carbonaria divergent haplotypes in relation to mitochondrial DNA, which had a distinct morphology of the pattern of the species. These data challenge the prevailing idea that the species C. carbonaria corresponds to a single taxonomy unit The courting behavior and copulation of turtles are based on a system that involves visual, tactile, olfactory and acoustic signals. The vocalization is a signal dependent on the physiological condition, and that reflects the fitness of the male, which may represent, in some species of Testudinidae, a signal that influences mate choice by females. Thus, the vocalization may represent a species-specific signal, allowing partners to females rejecting sympatric species. The evaluation of taxonomic species level should occur in an orderly manner and take into account the largest possible number of independent features, which avoids the erroneous naming of taxa and inappropriate changes in the species list. Behavioral aspects such as intraspecific communication may prove as reliable as morphological or molecular data to infer evolutionary relationships. Thus, this paper aims to provide additional data to clarify the taxonomy of Brazilian Testudinidae, through the use of vocalization during copulation and male and female preference for calls intraspecific. (AU)

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