New World Coral Snakes (genus Micrurus) occur from North to South America in a wide range of climates and habitats. Using both original and published data, we show that reproductive patterns diverge in the two phylogenetic lineages of Micrurus within the subtropical regions. Species with black rings arranged in triads are characterized by males larger than or equal in size to females, male combat behavior, and a broader season of vitellogenesis and oviposition. In these species, mating in autumn is synchronous with both spermatogenesis and vitellogenesis. Thus, females need to store sperm until ovulation in spring. In species with black rings arranged in monads, females are generally larger than males, there is no male–male combat, and seasonal vitellogenesis occurs in spring synchronous with mating. Egg laying occurs from late spring to summer, and hatchlings emerge from late summer to autumn. Spermatogenesis peaks during autumn, and males store sperm in the deferent duct over winter, until the mating season. Despite these phylogenetic trends, climatic influence on the extension of reproductive cycles was evident, with equatorial species exhibiting more continuous cycles and species from cold areas exhibiting more seasonal cycles. These two disparate reproductive strategies may be considered another differential trait between these two clades of Micrurus showing the high divergence between them.
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Vol. 69 • No. 1