AQUATIC HABITAT RESOURCE USE OF EASTERN BOX TURTLES IN NORTHEASTERN GEORGIA**
Abstract: Anthropogenic habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation lead to decreases in resources, biodiversity, and ecosystem services; thus, understanding how species use specific resources is vital to conservation and restoration efforts. Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) are a primarily terrestrial species native to the eastern United States that has experienced population declines throughout its native range largely due to habitat loss and alterations. Although the species is considered primarily terrestrial, phylogenetic studies indicate Eastern Box Turtles (EBT) evolved from an aquatic turtle species, suggesting that aquatic habitats may represent an important resource for the species when considering conservation efforts. To investigate this use in northeastern Georgia, we analyzed habitat use of 50 individual EBT (29 M, 21 F) located using radiotelemetry 1-2 times per month for periods of 9-110 months between 2013-2022. Aquatic habitats at our study site included freshwater forested/shrub wetlands created by beaver activity along a permanent creek in addition to multiple, unconnected seepage wetland areas dominated by either Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense) or native woody and herbaceous vegetation. About a quarter of all radiolocations were recorded in wetland or seepage habitats; however individual use of these aquatic resources varied, with about 20% of the turtles having no locations recorded in a wetland or seepage area. The high percentage of EBT using aquatic habitats supports the need for consideration of aquatic habitat in conservation efforts.
UNG Dept. of Biology
Jones*, Emily E.; Rodriguez*, Amy L.; Hyslop, Natalie L.; and Mook, Jennifer
"AQUATIC HABITAT RESOURCE USE OF EASTERN BOX TURTLES IN NORTHEASTERN GEORGIA**,"
Georgia Journal of Science, Vol. 81, No. 1, Article 21.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.gaacademy.org/gjs/vol81/iss1/21