Date of Thesis



Ecomorphology and functional morphology are two distinct disciplines within biology that are often conflated and erroneously used interchangeably. By investigating the morphological distinctiveness of bottom-walking turtles relative to aquatic swimmers and terrestrial walkers, we can disentangle the effects of ecology and performance. Shell morphology, tail length, digit length, webbing length, and integumental differences were examined using dry and wet preserved specimens. Bottom-walkers were hypothesized to be distinct in all measurements. Instead, bottom-walkers were typically distinct from terrestrial taxa but not aquatic taxa, although for integumentary structures, only bottom-walkers were found to have significantly more integumentary structures than terrestrial turtles. This demonstrates that, despite sometimes highly differential locomotor modes, ecology, defined as habitat type, can show a stronger morphological signal than function.


turtles, biology, habitat, bottom walkers, morphology, functional morphology, ecological morphology, morphometrics, shell

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Tristan Stayton