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Schmidt, K., & Hellgren, E. , Population characteristics, habitat use, and behavior of ornate box turtles (terrapene ornata ornata) in remnant and restored tallgrass prairie - abstract. Unpublished paper presented at Program and Abstracts of the Tenth Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. 
Added by: Sarina Wunderlich (06 Jul 2014 16:17:19 UTC)
Resource type: Conference Paper
BibTeX citation key: Schmidt2013a
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Categories: General
Keywords: Cuora galbinifrons, Cuora mouhotii, Geoemydidae, Habitat - habitat, Nordamerika - North America, Schildkröten - turtles + tortoises
Creators: Hellgren, Schmidt
Collection: Program and Abstracts of the Tenth Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles
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The Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata) is an integral component of tallgrass prairie ecosystems. This turtle species has been understudied in Illinois, where it is classified as State-Threatened. Our objectives were to assess microhabitat selection and characterize demography of T. ornata at two sites in northwestern Illinois. We also describe critical habitat used by transmittered individuals for overwintering, aestivation, and nesting. From June 2011 to October 2012, we captured 111 individuals (34F, 46M, and 31U) via foot surveys, opportunistic encounters, road cruising, and the use of detector dogs. Capture data between sites suggests variation in sex ratios between our two study populations. One population was composed of approximately equal numbers of males and female turtles (17F, 16M, χ2 = 0.03, P = 0.862), and the other population contained nearly twice as many male turtles (17F, 30M, χ2 = 3.596, P = 0.058). We affixed radiotransmitters to 34 adults (14F, 20M) for monitoring in 2012, and collected microhabitat data at approximately 1,000 paired turtle and random sites. These data are currently being analyzed to determine key microsite characteristics associated with habitat selection by T. ornata. Eight turtles were tracked to their overwintering locations in 2011 (3F, 5M), and 28 animals (13F, 15M) were followed to overwintering locations in 2012. Overwintering locations of five animals (2F, 3M) could be compared across both years. Three turtles (2F, 1M) displayed site fidelity (2–4 m from the previous overwintering location). Of the 34 transmittered turtles, there is one suspected depredation event (1F). Five additional transmitters were lost by becoming detached from the turtles’ shells during brumation (2M) and transmitter malfunction (3M). Turtles are using remnant prairie for nesting and overwintering habitat. Early spring phenology and prolonged drought in 2012 may have encouraged early emergence, hindered turtle movements, and encouraged early aestivation. Nesting was observed in late May 2012 on a sand road on the preserve. Depredated carcasses and road-kill mortalities occurred during the late summer and fall months when turtles were active. Conservation managers may use these data to maintain and restore suitable habitat for ornate box turtles across their Midwestern range.
Added by: Sarina Wunderlich  
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