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Movements and Activity of Bog Turtles (Clemmys muhlenbergii) in Southwestern Virginia

Shawn L. Carter, Carola A. Haas and Joseph C. Mitchell
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 75-80
DOI: 10.2307/1565241
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1565241
Page Count: 6
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Movements and Activity of Bog Turtles (Clemmys muhlenbergii) in Southwestern Virginia
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Abstract

We radio-tracked 35 adult bog turtles (Clemmys muhlenbergii) at four study sites in southwestern Virginia (May 1995 to December 1996) to assess the scale and frequency of movement within and between wetlands and to identify the potential for population isolation. Net movements between subsequent locations recorded during 1995 (N = 18) and 1996 (N = 27) averaged 17 m and 18 m for females and 16 m and 23 m for males, respectively, and did not differ with respect to sex for either year. Net distances underestimated true bog turtle activity (measured by threadspooling) by a factor of 6.5. The length of time between net distance measurements (1-9 d) did not influence the resulting distance measured, suggesting that relatively short time intervals may not need to be considered when calculating activity estimates. Seventy-five percent of all net movements were <20 m, whereas only 2% were >100 m. Large-scale movements between wetlands were observed infrequently. Information regarding distance, timing, and proximate cues for movement is essential to further understanding of the behavior and ecology of turtles. Dispersal, although poorly studied, has profound implications for social behavior, genetic structure, and persistence of populations. If successful dispersal is limited to infrequent, large-scale movements, future wetland loss may serve to isolate some populations of bog turtles. Further study of the importance long-distance movements play in maintaining populations is needed to aid future conservation strategies in southwestern Virginia.

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