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Is righting response lateralized in two species of freshwater turtles?

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Laterality has been found in a variety of reptiles. In turtles, one important behaviour is the righting response. Here, we studied laterality of righting response of two species of freshwater turtles, the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) and the Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus). We found evidence of individual-level laterality in righting response in C. picta, but not S. odoratus. Neither species showed evidence of population-level laterality in righting response. Our results suggest that there is variation in the extent of laterality of righting response in turtles. Possible explanations for variation in laterality of righting response in turtles include shell shape and use of terrestrial habitats. However, more species of turtles need to be examined to demonstrate any general patterns in laterality of righting response in turtles.

Affiliations: 1: aDepartment of Biology, Denison University, Granville, OH 43023, USA ; 2: bDepartment of Biology, Earlham College, Richmond, IN 47374, USA

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