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Movement, Seasonal Activity, and Home Range of an Isolated Population of Glyptemys muhlenbergii, Bog Turtle, in the Southern Appalachians
- Smith, Lisa M., Cherry, Robert P.
- Southeastern naturalist 2016 v.15 no.2 pp. 207-219
- Glyptemys muhlenbergii, adults, breeding, conservation buffers, females, habitats, hibernation, home range, males, radio telemetry, streams, surveys, turtles, wetlands, Appalachian region, Eastern United States
- Glyptemys muhlenbergii (Bog Turtle) is a small, federally threatened, aquatic turtle found only within a fragmented range in the eastern US. From 2005–2009, we studied the movements and home ranges of 9 adult turtles during the active season in an isolated population located in the Southern Appalachians. We used radio telemetry to locate turtles once a day for 1 week of every month, and then once a week for the rest of the month. We calculated average distance moved between locations for consecutive days. Movements of Bog Turtles averaged 13.00 m/d for females and 14.51 m/d for males with no significant difference between sexes. Movement distances were significantly shorter during the period following emergence from and the one preceding entrance into hibernation. We used 95% minimum convex polygon, 50% fixed-kernel density, and 95% fixed-kernel density to calculate home-range size. Home-range size was highly variable: the 95% kernel density estimation ranged from 0.21–2.43 ha and we detected no significant difference between sexes. Over the entirety of our study, more than 80% of home ranges were smaller than 1.55 ha. There was no significant difference between turtle home-range size during the breeding and post-breeding season for either sex. Our determinations of the average home-range overlap for individual turtles tracked in multiple consecutive years indicated that turtles remained in similar locations from year to year. Our population experienced 1 emigration— a turtle moved out of the bog into a nearby wetland—which suggested the importance of suitable corridors for movement and protection of additional habitat. Our results indicated that Bog Turtles have small home-ranges and are capable of existing in small wetlands; thus, management plans should incorporate surveys and protection of smaller wetlands that may be easily overlooked. Suitable buffer areas surrounding wetland habitat and stream corridors should be maintained and protected to promote connectivity to other Bog Turtle populations and allow for successful emigration.