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Sexual Cycle of the Mediterranean Pond Turtle, Mauremys leprosa (Testudines: Geoemydidae) in West Central Morocco

Mohamed Naimi, Mohammed Znari, Soumia Loulida, Moulay Abdeljalil AitBaamrane, Jeffrey Edward Lovich


We studied the reproductive cycle of male and female Mauremys leprosa in central Morocco. The cycle for males starts in the spring with warming temperatures and the beginning of the dry-season with testicular enlargement and a decrease in epididimydes size accompanied by sperm production. The epididymis contains sperm mainly in winter, spring and summer. Females exhibited follicular enlargement from November reaching a peak in February when a maximum follicle size of 38.5 mm was observed. Ovulation appears to begin in April or May and oviductal eggs were present in our samples from April – July. Suspected mating activity occurred from January – March when environmental temperatures were lowest and the wet-season peaked. Sexual activity was coincident with the onset of maximum storage of sperm in the epididymis. The overall reproductive cycle of this species is similar to that of other Temperate Zone turtles with the exception that mating occurs in the winter, not in the spring and fall. Winter mating may be a response to the wet-season Mediterranean climates. Rain connects isolated pools in ephemeral rivers and streams in Morocco that form during the dry season, thus providing greater opportunities for access to mates.


Mauremys leprosa, egg, oogenesis, mating, ovulation, spermatogenisis

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