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Home Range and Habitat Selection of Bog Turtles in Southwestern Virginia

Shawn L. Carter, Carola A. Haas and Joseph C. Mitchell
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Jul., 1999), pp. 853-860
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802798
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802798
Page Count: 8
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Home Range and Habitat Selection of Bog Turtles in Southwestern Virginia
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Abstract

Bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) populations are believed to be declining, in part, because of habitat loss. However, a detailed understanding of the specific habitat requirements for bog turtles is lacking. We used radiotelemetry on adult bog turtles to examine home range size (M: n = 13; F: n = 12) and habitat selection (M: n = 12; F: n = 17) at 3 sites in southwestern Virginia from May 1995 to December 1996. Home range size did not differ between males and females, as calculated via minimum convex polygon (MCP) analysis (P = 0.785) or cluster analysis (P = 0.722) during the 20-month study period. Habitat selection also did not differ by sex (P = 0.441). Mean 95% home range area pooled across sexes was 0.52 ha via MCP analysis and 0.15 ha via cluster analysis. We located bog turtles in areas closer to patches of shallow water, in deeper mud (21 cm) and water (9 cm), and in taller (55 cm), denser vegetation than expected if selection was random. Bog turtles selected wet meadow, smooth alder (Alnus serrulata) edge, and bulrush (Scirpus spp.) vegetation types more than expected randomly, and avoided dry meadow vegetation and streams. This species selects multiple microhabitats within wetlands and is restricted to small home ranges. Future bog turtle habitat conservation in southwestern Virginia should identify occupied wetlands containing the habitat components we describe, quantify management practices aimed at slowing succession and habitat loss, and reduce threats that may affect wetland hydrology.

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