Biology of Turtles: From Structures to Strategies of Life

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ISBN 9780849333392
Cat# 3339



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  • Explores the development of the most distinct turtle feature, the shell
  • Synthesizes important work on bone growth and aging, and furthers our understanding of bone strength
  • Presents comparative, experimental and functional perspectives on locomotion
  • Describes the retractable neck in its functional context, taking the reader beyond the simple view of “protecting the head”
  • Provides a functional, anatomical, and behavioral overview of feeding in herbivorous and carnivorous, and aquatic vs. terrestrial, turtles that has never previously been synthesized
  • Discusses cardiopulmonary structure from several behavioral and functional perspectives
  • Challenges researchers to think rigorously when analyzing the consequences of environmental sex determination and turtle sex ratios
  • Examines the unique structural and functional adaptations for tolerating low oxygen levels found in turtles that hibernate under water
  • Explores why the origin of turtles and their relationship to other amniotes is such a great challenge
  • Summary

    Featuring in-depth contributions from an international team of experts, the Biology of Turtles provides the first comprehensive review of the Testudinata. The book starts with the premise that the structure of turtles is particularly interesting and best understood within the context of their development, novelty, functional diversity, and evolution. It provides a robust discussion of the development and diversity of the shell. The book also explores the turtle body plan, its physiological and ecological consequences, evolutionary novelties, and their importance. The 200 illustrations found throughout the text enhance the chapters combine with color illustrations of the development of the shell, aspects of bone structural diversity, growth, and skeletochronology, to make this book an unparalleled resource. The volume concludes with a thoughtful discussion of the more than century long debate on the origins of turtles and the reasons why our understanding of the phylogenic origins and evolution of turtles remains tentative.

    Currently available books on this subject are woefully out of date and no overall review of Testudinata has been undertaken…until now. Each chapter represents a milestone in synthesizing a wide range of available information on specific subjects. The book’s challenge: look both inside and outside the shell to build a clearer understanding of the diversity and evolution of turtles.

    Table of Contents

    How the Turtle Gets Its Shell, S.F. Gilbert, J.A. Cebra-Thomas, and A.C. Burke
    Comparative Ontogenetic and Phylogenetic Aspects of Chelonian Chondro-Osseous Growth and Skeletochronology, M.L. Snover and A.G.J. Rhodin
    Evolution and Structure of the Turtle Shell, P.C H. Pritchard
    Long Bone Allometry in Tortoises and Turtles, G.A. Llorente, X. Ruiz, A. Casinos, I. Barandalla, and C. Viladiu
    Evolution of Locomotion in Aquatic Turtles, S. Renous, F. de Lapparent de Broin, M. Depecker, J. Davenport, and V. Bels
    Hindlimb Function in Turtle Locomotion: Limb Movements and Muscular Activation Across Taxa, Environment, and Ontogeny, R.W. Blob, A.R.V. Rivera, and M.W. Westneat
    Cervical Anatomy and Function in Turtles, A. Herrel, J. Van Damme, and P. Aerts
    Functional Evolution of Feeding Behavior in Turtles, V. Bels, S. Baussart, J. Davenport, M. Shorten, R.M. O’Riordan, S. Renous, and J.L. Davenport
    The Cardiopulmonary Systems of Turtles: Implications to Behavior and Function, J. Wyneken
    Reproductive Structures and Strategies of Turtles, J.D. Miller and S.A. Dinkelacker
    Mixed and Uniform Brood Sex Ratio Strategy in Turtles: The Facts, the Theory, and their Consequences, V. Hulin, M. Girondot, M.H. Godfrey, and J.-M. Guillon
    The Physiology and Anatomy of Anoxia Tolerance in the Freshwater Turtle Brain, S.L. Milton
    The Relationships of Turtles within Amniotes, O. Rieppel

    Author Bio(s)

    Editorial Reviews

    "Given the excitement engendered by the flurry of genome projects, coupled with the deep concern for their conservation and survival, there couldn’t be a better time for a comprehensive survey of the biology of turtles. … When considering the entire volume, I found that the organization and layout of the book worked well. Most of the images were of reasonable quality, and the all-important anatomical photographs were usually clear and easy to use.

    I found this to be a great volume that I love having on my bookshelf. … Certainly for specialists, it is an important reference guide, and one that I find myself using a lot."

    —H. Bradley Shaffer, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, University of California, Los Angeles, Copeia, December 2012

    "The volume covers a remarkable range of topics at very different levels… the chapters are well written and well illustrated… this is an excellent addition to our knowledge of evolutionary, developmental, and functional aspects of turtle morphology… It seems likely that chapters in this volume will become standard references for current and future generations of turtle biologists."
    —Peter A. Meylan, Collegium of Natural Sciences, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida, in Phyllomedusa,Volume 7, September 2008

    "… Notable strengths'! A laudable layout change after 2 previous turtle-content books by CRC Press (Lutz et a!. 2003) is that The Biology of Turtles has all chapters stand independent with a reference list, yet included the helpful index of subjects and authors cross-referenced in the text, regardless of chapter. The improvement in accessibility creates a more user-friendly reference for the target audience. The images and figures are frequent, clear, and well-juxtaposed with the text…."
    Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter, Issue 13

    "This book, a multiauthored, comprehensive study of turtle anatomy, physiology, evolution, and behavior, provides the first modern, broad but detailed scientific examination of turtles. … this is the best … broad-based scientific work on turtles. It will be valuable to anyone interested in turtle biology, and should be on the shelf of any good library of vertebrate animal biology."
    — M. S. Grace, Florida Institute of Technology in CHOICE, January 2009

    "Functional morphologists have joined forces with paleontologists, physiologists, developmental biologists, modelers and ecologists to provide excellent new perspectives on the biology of turtles. … the volume will be of great value to herpetologists of all kinds … . … this is an excellent addition to our knowledge of evolutionary, developmental and functional aspects of turtle morphology. It seems likely that chapters in this volume will become standard references for the current and future generations of turtle biologists."
    – Peter A. Meylan, Collegium of Natural Sciences, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida in Phyllomedusa Vol. 7(1), September 2008

    "… chapters are successful, and the book provides a solid basis for future morphological research. … the turtle research community owes their thanks to the editors and chapter authors."
    — C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr., Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida in Marine Turtle Newsletter, 122:12-13, 2008

    ". . . provides the first comprehensive review of the Testudinata in and out of the shell."
    – In Herpetological Review, 2008, Vol. 38, No. 3