Title

Home Range and Habitat Use of The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) in the Northern Georgia Piedmont

Proposal Type

Event

Keywords

Terrapene carolina, radiotelemetry, home range, habitat use, Ligustrum sinense

Subject Area

Biology

Description/Abstract

The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) is a terrestrial species found throughout the Eastern United States. The species is considered vulnerable according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, yet data regarding habitat use, home range, and impacts of invasive plant species is limited, especially in the northern Piedmont region of Georgia. For this research, Box Turtles were hand captured at Tumbling Creek Nature Preserve on the Gainesville campus of The University of North Georgia in Oakwood, GA and located on foot using radiotelemetry 1-2 times per week from spring 2013 to fall 2015. At radiolocations, we collected GPS location and microhabitat data, including vegetation cover, environmental temperatures, and forest stand basal area. We used 100% minimum complex polygons (MCP) and kernel density to estimate individual home range area. To date, we have collected 5-134 radiolocations per individual turtle, with MCP home ranges variying from 0.16-6.10 ha. Overall patterns of habitat use indicate use of upland habitats dominated by native vegetation (37% of radiolocations), uplands dominated by Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense; 50%), cleared land (9%), and wetland habitats (4%). Assessment of home ranges and habitat use will continue through 2015-2016 as we maintain tracking efforts.

Bio

Dr. Hyslop's research interests predominantly center on problems in wildlife conservation, particularly those concerning herpetofaunal (reptile and amphibian) species in the eastern United States. Additionally, she is interested in understanding ecological factors that influence patterns of species composition and local population persistence and extinction. Paralleling this, she is concerned with wildlife use of specific resources within a landscape, including spatial requirements and habitat features which are critical for the persistence of populations in a geographic region. Currently, she is involved with research on Eastern Box Turtles and another project on the chytrid fungus and local amphibian populations. Dr. Mook considers herself a "jack of all trades" in the education and work environment. She has cleaned trails at a wildlife conservation park, worked in an environmental testing lab, been a zookeeper, and helped the computer guy install equipment and train people how to use their email. She has also been involved in biology research with bioremediation, genetics, genomics and cell biology. Dr. Mook is particularly interested in all things reptilian, especially turtles and tortoises, as wells as sperm physiology, especially their motion and long-term storage for fertility studies. At UNG, she has been involved with research on Salmonella with the state poultry lab and with Eastern box turtles. She assists with research examining habitat utilization by Eastern box turtles.

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Home Range and Habitat Use of The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) in the Northern Georgia Piedmont

The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) is a terrestrial species found throughout the Eastern United States. The species is considered vulnerable according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, yet data regarding habitat use, home range, and impacts of invasive plant species is limited, especially in the northern Piedmont region of Georgia. For this research, Box Turtles were hand captured at Tumbling Creek Nature Preserve on the Gainesville campus of The University of North Georgia in Oakwood, GA and located on foot using radiotelemetry 1-2 times per week from spring 2013 to fall 2015. At radiolocations, we collected GPS location and microhabitat data, including vegetation cover, environmental temperatures, and forest stand basal area. We used 100% minimum complex polygons (MCP) and kernel density to estimate individual home range area. To date, we have collected 5-134 radiolocations per individual turtle, with MCP home ranges variying from 0.16-6.10 ha. Overall patterns of habitat use indicate use of upland habitats dominated by native vegetation (37% of radiolocations), uplands dominated by Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense; 50%), cleared land (9%), and wetland habitats (4%). Assessment of home ranges and habitat use will continue through 2015-2016 as we maintain tracking efforts.