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Homing Behavior of Musk Turtles in a Virginia Lake

Christina M. Smar and Randolph M. Chambers
Southeastern Naturalist
Vol. 4, No. 3 (2005), pp. 527-532
Published by: Eagle Hill Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3878195
Page Count: 6
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Homing Behavior of Musk Turtles in a Virginia Lake
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Abstract

For nine weeks during the summer of 2002, a mark and recapture technique was used to study homing behavior of Musk Turtles (Sternotherus odoratus) living in Lake Matoaka, VA. During the first three weeks of the study, 119 turtles (83 male, 36 female) were captured using unbaited crabpots, then marked and displaced from the site of capture. Turtles were displaced 100 m across open water 4 m deep, 520 m along the same shore, or 550 m across open water. For the last six weeks of the study, 110 turtles (65 males, 45 females) were captured and released with no displacement. Overall, 39% (49/126) of males and 21% (15/71) of females in this study were captured more than once. Seventy-five of 118 recaptures (64%) were at the site of most recent release (sedentary behavior) and 11 recaptures (9%) were at neither the original nor most recent site of capture (non-homing behavior). Thirty-four of 118 recaptures of displaced turtles (29%) occurred at the site of original capture, and 31 (91%) of these movements were made by males, a significant difference in homing behavior between males and females during the time of the study. Neither distance nor open water significantly impeded turtle homing.

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