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Agonistic Behavior of the Galapagos Tortoise, Geochelone elephantopus, with Emphasis on Its Relationship to Saddle-Backed Shell Shape

Susan F. Schafer and C. O'Neil Krekorian
Herpetologica
Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 1983), pp. 448-456
Published by: Allen Press on behalf of the Herpetologists' League
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3892541
Page Count: 9
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Agonistic Behavior of the Galapagos Tortoise, Geochelone elephantopus, with Emphasis on Its Relationship to Saddle-Backed Shell Shape
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Abstract

Agonistic behavior of Geochelone elephantopus was studied at the San Diego Zoo, California, and in the Galapagos, Ecuador. Neck extensions to several vertical postures occurred most often. Winners extended their heads higher than losers. Gapes and bite attempts occurred frequently, but physical contact was rarely observed. Males were dominant over females, and contacts between females were uncommon. Saddle-backed tortoises contacted one another more often and performed neck extensions and gapes more often than dome-shelled tortoises. Dominance in saddle-backed tortoises was related to shell shape and neck and limb length. The saddle-backed morphology appeared to increase the effectiveness of ritualized fighting.

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