The social behavior of turtles during the nesting season can be attributed to a series of functions such as reducing predation, increasing hatchling survivorship, and information exchange between nesting females. However, the mechanism(s) used to remain in a group during the different phases of nesting behavior has yet to be explained. The objective of this study is to document the sounds produced by Giant South American River Turtle, Podocnemis expansa, during the nesting period, and identify how acoustic mechanisms might facilitate social behavior and group aggregation during this period. From September 2009 to October 2011, the sound repertoire of P. expansa was identified during the nesting period, which begins with the migration of the turtles from the flooded forests to the nesting beaches and terminates when the hatchlings emerge and the females migrate with the hatchlings to the flooded forests. Sounds were recorded when the turtles were active in different behavioral patterns (1) migrating; (2) aggregating in front of the nesting beaches before basking; (3) nesting at night; (4) waiting in the water without nesting or after they have nested; and (5) waiting for the arrival of the hatchlings. We observed six types of sound in the recordings of turtles made during the nesting period. These data indicate that this species is social, and that sound plays an important role in the synchronization of the activities of groups during the nesting season.
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Vol. 70 • No. 2