Thesis Title

Nest Emergence and Chemosensory Mediated Predator Avoidance: Two Studies of Behavior in the Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys Scripta Elegans)

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Don Moll


Predator avoidance is a key to the survival of any species. The emergence of offspring in a single event (mass emergence) aids early in life, while the ability to detect predators by olfactory means aids throughout. In one experiment, the effect of constant versus changing surface temperature on the emergence behavior of red-eared sliders was tested. With a constant surface temperature above that of the next, hatchlings either did not emerge or emerged erratically as individuals or in small groups. However, when the surface temperature was allowed to drop below that of the nest, the hatchlings emerged en masse. In a second experiment the response of naïve hatchling red-eared sliders to the chemical cues of predator (Macroclemmys temminckii) and a non-predatory heterospecfic (Sternotherus oderatus) was tested. The hatchlings showed preferential avoidance of areas with the predatory scent and indifference to areas with the non-predatory scent. Together these results provide evidence that hatchling red-eared sliders may increase survival by utilizing a mass emergence event with a reversal of the nest to surface temperature gradient as the cue, and by using chemical cues to avoid predators.


Trachemys, emergence, hatchlings, naïve, chemosensory

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© Matthew D. Green