Hypotheses in the chelonian literature suggest that in species with sexual size dimorphism, the smaller sex will mature at a smaller size and a younger age than the larger sex, sex ratios should be biased in favor of the earlier maturing sex, and deviations from a 1:1 sex ratio result from maturation of the smaller sex at a younger age. I tested these hypotheses using data collected from 1991 to 1995 on an insular (Egmont Key) population of Florida box turtles, Terrapene carolina bauri. Contrary to predictions, the earlier maturing sex (males) grew to larger sizes than the late maturing sex. Males were significantly larger than females in mean carapace length but not mean body mass. Sex ratios were not balanced, favoring the earlier maturing sex (1.6 males:1 female), but the sex-ratio imbalance did not result from faster maturation of the smaller sex. The imbalance in the sex ratio in Egmont Key's box turtles is not the result of sampling biases; it may result from nest placement. Size-class structure and sex ratios can provide valuable insights into the status and trends of populations of long-lived turtles.
Additional publication details
Population structure and the evolution of sexual size dimorphism and sex ratios in an insular population of Florida box turtles (Terrapene carolina bauri)