IDENTIFYING THREATS TO BLANDING'S AND WOOD TURTLE RECRUITMENT IN NORTHERN MICHIGAN
Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) and Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) are two threatened species that face various natural and anthropogenic threats to their populations. Many of these threats cause a decline in their recruitment, which can lead to drastic declines in populations. Females put themselves at-risk during periods of movement. My objectives were to identify portions of the season that females were most at-risk, potential nest predators, preferrable nest microhabitat characteristics, and movement of hatchlings. I studied movements in adult females of both species at a site in Northern Michigan using GPS and radiotelemetry. I compared these movements to the relative level of risk, or resistance, in the path they chose to take. I found both species had relatively similar resistance movements over the entire season. It seems that Blanding’s turtles tend to make more resistant movements during nesting, while Wood Turtles seem to be less resistant. Neither species seems to take the least resistance path available. I also conducted nesting surveys to determine nesting locations and selection characteristics at the site for both species. I did not find any characteristic that predicts nesting locations. The located nests were also recorded via trail cams to assess for predator activity. I recorded many species on trail camera review, but I did not note any predation behavior, all damage to nest cages were caused by humans and their vehicles. Lastly, I used radiotelemetry to analyze movements for hatchling turtles. Hatchlings of both species tended to make short daily movements until they reached a wetland. I also found hatchling’s succumbed to predation, desiccation, and road mortality. My data suggests further research needs to be conducted to expand our knowledge on recruitment threats. Nevertheless, I suggest active management for the threats we have noted. Nest cages seemed to be relatively successful at protecting nests, so I recommend continued nest cages to prevent or deter predators. Head-starting may be a strong strategy to help hatchlings reach a larger size before release. These larger hatchlings would also allow for larger transmitters and longer tracking times. This will help to prevent lost turtles and further our knowledge on hatchling success.
- Master of Science
- Biological Sciences
- Fort Wayne