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Georgia Journal of Science

Abstract

Aquatic turtles are essential contributors to many freshwater ecosystems, but they face a myriad of threats, necessitating periodic monitoring of population status. Increasing turtle trapping efficiency has the potential to improve conservation efforts, particularly when population sizes are low or sampling conditions are suboptimal. In an effort to improve trapping efficiency, we added LED lights to turtle traps in an attempt to attract kinosternid turtles. Our investigation into the effectiveness of LED lights as an attractant was based on evidence suggesting that these turtles may forage using both visual and olfactory cues. Lights significantly increased captures of kinosternid turtles during early spring, but the increased efficiency did not persist later in the season, possibly due to lights facilitating escape from traps as turtle activity levels increased. To our knowledge, this study is the first research into the efficacy of using lights to increase trapping success of freshwater turtles. Given our encouraging results during early spring and the low cost of LED lights, we encourage researchers to explore the possibility of adding lights to traps to increase captures in challenging trapping conditions.

Acknowledgements

The University of North Georgia Department of Biology provided financial support for this project. We are grateful to Robin Myers for editorial comments that greatly improved early versions of this manuscript and to Olivia and Alexander Bender for assistance with fieldwork. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that improved the quality of this manuscript.

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