Faculty Publications

Effect Of Acclimation Temperature And Substrate Type On Selected Temperature, Movement And Activity Of Juvenile Spiny Softshell Turtles (Apalone Spinifera) In An Aquatic Thermal Gradient

Document Type



Juvenile turtle behavior, Temperature gradient, Thermoregulation, Trionychidae

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Thermal Biology




In some turtle species, temperature selection may be influenced by environmental conditions, including acclimation temperature and substrate quality. These factors may be particularly important for softshell turtles that are highly aquatic and often thermoregulate by burying in the substrate in shallow water microhabitats. We tested for effects of acclimation temperature (22 °C or 27 °C) and substrate type (sand or gravel) on the selected temperature and movement patterns of 20 juvenile spiny softshell turtles (Apalone spinifera; Reptilia: Trionychidae) in an aquatic thermal gradient of 14–34 °C. Among 7–11 month old juvenile softshell turtles, acclimation temperature and substrate type did not influence temperature selection, nor alter activity and movement patterns. During thermal gradient tests, both 22- and 27 °C-acclimated turtles selected the warmest temperature (34 °C) available most frequently, regardless of substrate type (sand or gravel). Similarly, acclimation temperature and substrate type did not influence movement patterns of turtles, nor the number of chambers used in the gradient tests. These results suggest that juvenile Apalone spinifera are capable of detecting small temperature increments and prefer warm temperatures that may positively influence growth and metabolism, and that thermal factors more significantly influence aquatic thermoregulation in this species than does substrate type.


Department of Biology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version



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