Reproductive biology of the Green Ground Snake Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus sublineatus (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) in Subtropical Brazil

ABSTRACT We investigated reproductive features of the dipsadid snake Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus sublineatus in the southernmost Brazilian coast, a subtropical region characterized by well-marked seasons. Females are significantly smaller than males, have a shorter tail, and reach sexual maturity at later times along their development. In contrast to tropical subspecies, E. p. sublineatus females presented a seasonal pattern, with secondary follicles occurring from late winter to early autumn and egg production restricted to the whole spring and early summer. Males presented seasonal variation in testes volume (increase in autumn and decrease in winter) while no significant seasonal variation was found in ductus deferens width. The number of oviductal eggs varied from two to nine, thus, real fecundity is also inferior than that observed in tropical E. poecilogyrus forms. Considering the thermal requirements for reproduction, it is possible that the colder climatic conditions of the southern Brazilian coast have shaped the seasonal reproductive pattern in E. p. sublineatus. The shorter body size of this subspecies may also represent a conditioning factor of low fecundity.