AN EVALUATION OF THE INFLUENCE OF LIGHT BAITS ON AQUATIC TURTLE TRAP SUCCESS**
Obtaining sufficient sample sizes in a timely and cost-effective manner is a critical aspect of many field-based studies. Any innovations in methodology that improve sampling efficiency can have substantial impacts on research and conservation efforts. Thus, researchers should frequently evaluate and revise sampling methodologies to improve efficiencies, especially when investigating the population status of organisms that might be vulnerable to declines. Many populations of aquatic turtles are experiencing declines worldwide. Without intervention, the declining turtle populations could have negative repercussions on the health of ecosystems because of their numerous ecological roles, such as seed dispersal, nutrient cycling, and aquatic vegetation control. Researching the population status of aquatic turtles typically requires the handling of individuals that are captured in traps baited with scented foods. While many studies have compared the efficacy of various baits that rely primarily on the olfactory senses of aquatic turtles, we have found no research that utilized light as a bait. The main objective of our research is to determine how the addition of light bait influences the capture success of aquatic freshwater turtle traps. Genetic evidence suggests a reduction in olfactory ability among aquatic turtles, and some field-based evidence suggests visual cues may be used primarily during foraging; therefore, we hypothesize that light attractants will improve trapping efficiency. To achieve our research objective, we will trap turtles in ponds using box-style turtle traps and processed meat baits for ≥60 trap nights in Hall County, Georgia. Underwater LED lights will be randomly assigned and placed in half of the traps on a nightly basis so that capture results can be evaluated using a two-sample t-test. We will focus on trapping turtles in the family Kinosternidae because they are primarily carnivorous, typically exhibit nocturnal foraging, and we consider it likely they will respond to the presence of lights.
University of North Georgia Department of Biology
Woodall*, Maggie M.; Myers*, Jenna; Hunt*, Danah; Bender, Michael J.; and Mook, Jennifer
"AN EVALUATION OF THE INFLUENCE OF LIGHT BAITS ON AQUATIC TURTLE TRAP SUCCESS**,"
Georgia Journal of Science, Vol. 79, No. 1, Article 55.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.gaacademy.org/gjs/vol79/iss1/55