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T22: Wildlife: Turtles [clear filter]
Tuesday, January 29
 

3:20pm EST

(WILDLIFE: TURTLES) Use of Headstarting Data to Estimate Age-Specific Survival Rates of Juvenile Blanding’s Turtles
AUTHORS: Callie Klatt Golba, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University; Gary Glowacki, 2Natural Resource Division, Lake County Forest Preserve District; Richard B. King, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University & Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy, Northern Illinois University

ABSTRACT: Blanding’s Turtles (IUCN Endangered) are long-lived reptiles with delayed sexual maturity. Population viability analyses (PVAs) are useful tools for such species because they allow the comparison of conservation strategies over time frames that would not be possible experimentally. Accurate demographic parameter estimates are essential for reliable projection of effects of management on populations. For Blanding’s Turtles, we lack accurate estimates of juvenile survival because younger age classes are infrequently encountered and recaptured. The Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) in northeastern Illinois initiated a long-term capture-mark-recapture (CMR) project in 2004. Since 2010, LCFPD has released 879 headstarted turtles, 316 of which have been recaptured in one or more successive years. These 14 years of intensive monitoring have provided us with a unique dataset from which we estimate the survival of juvenile turtles. Using encounter histories of headstarted animals, we estimate age-specific survival rates by employing Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) modelling techniques. Furthermore, by comparing size and growth trajectories of headstarted animals with those of known-age wild-born juveniles (93 unique individuals, 39 of which have been recaptured), we meaningfully apply age-specific survival estimates to wild animals. Together with other demographic information from this population (adult survival, fecundity), we anticipate more accurate population projections that will aid in evaluating conservation strategies for this population and potentially for Blanding’s Turtles elsewhere.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
VETERANS MEETING ROOM A/B

3:40pm EST

(WILDLIFE: TURTLES) Survivability of Head-Started Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) In Canada’s Rouge National Urban Park
AUTHORS: Katherine Wright, Crystal Robertson, Paul Yannuzzi, Shannon Ritchie, Andrew Lentini, Bob Johnson, Rick Vos – Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme, Toronto Zoo

ABSTRACT: A head-start program for Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) was launched in 2012 by Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme and partners in an effort to recover a local population in the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP). As per a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) in 2013, reaching a self-sustaining population required raising 50 turtles per year for two years each at a 60 female: 40 male ratio over 20 years. The head-start turtles are incubated and raised in a protected zoo environment, which includes a month in outdoor enclosures to acclimate to natural conditions. Then, a soft-release enclosure is used with half of the cohort for in-situ to acclimate to their new wetland prior to release into the wild, while a hard-release method is used for the other half (no in-situ acclimation). The release site is known habitat for Blanding’s turtles and is in close proximity to travel corridors, though many head-start turtles remain in the wetland area in which they were released. No significant difference has been observed between home ranges of soft- and hard-release turtles. The number of turtles released per cohort has increased each year (2014: 10, 2015: 21, 2016: 36, 2017: 49, and 2018: 49), as have cumulative survival rates (2018 data is still being incorporated). Survival, movement, and habitat use patterns are monitored by radio tracking a subset of turtles from each release cohort, which occurs three times per week from May-August and once per month from December-April. The number of tracked turtles from each cohort changes yearly as more turtles are released. In 2018, a total of 48 turtles were tracked out of the 165 that have been released to date. This long-term project will use adaptive management to improve husbandry, field research, habitat restoration and community outreach as the project progresses.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
VETERANS MEETING ROOM A/B

4:00pm EST

(WILDLIFE: TURTLES) Demographic Response of a Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) Population to Multi-year Meso-predator Removal Efforts in a Northeast Ohio Fen
AUTHORS: Nicholas A. Smeenk, Gregory J. Lipps, Jr. – Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership, The Ohio State University; Caleb Wellman, USDA, Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services

ABSTRACT: Meso-predatorsare primary predators of turtles and may obtain unnaturally high densities due to human subsidies. Predation by such predators may be more prevalent for turtle nests, which can be especially detrimental when nesting sites are concentrated. Persistent nest predation often results in a skewed population structure dominated by large adults due to reduced recruitment. Meso-predator control efforts during the nesting season have occurred yearly since 2011 at several important turtle sites in northern Ohio. At a northeast Ohio fen, we compared size distribution and sex ratios of Spotted Turtles among survey efforts from 2007 to trapping efforts in 2017 – 2018 to assess the demographic response of Spotted Turtles to removal of meso-predators. We used a Lincoln-Peterson population estimate with a Chapman modifier to estimate the turtle population size and density in 2017 – 2018. From 2011-2016, 115 raccoons (Procyon lotor) and 7 Virginia opposums (Didelphis virginiana) were removed along a railroad bed where turtles frequently nest. While the turtle sex ratio did not differ, we found a significant shift in the size distribution between the two time periods resulting from the capture of juveniles in 2017-2018, but not in 2007. A similar size distribution was observed in Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta). We estimated the population size to be 28 individuals (95% CI: 19 - 37), resulting in a density estimate of 22 individuals/hectare. The shift in size distribution and similarity to a conspecific turtle species, suggests that meso-predator control efforts have mitigated predation of nests and/or young, resulting in increased recruitment in the population examined in this study. Further, the estimated population density is high relative to other populations.  These results suggest a healthy population with yearly recruitment and evolutionarily stable sex distribution as a result of continued predator control efforts during the nesting season.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
VETERANS MEETING ROOM A/B

4:20pm EST

(WILDLIFE: TURTLES) Can We Use Environmental DNA to Detect Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) at the Edge of Their Range?
AUTHORS: Ethan J. Kessler, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois; Kurt T. Ash, Samantha N. Barratt, Eric R. Larson – University of Illinois; Mark A. Davis, Illinois Natural History Survey

ABSTRACT: Secretive aquatic animals are often particularly difficult to sample via traditional methodologies, especially when coupled with low population densities.  Alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) are a fully aquatic chelonian endemic to the southeastern United States.  At the northern extent of their range (i.e. Illinois and Indiana) this species is rarely encountered, and many records are chance encounters reported by citizen scientists.  M. temminckii receive state-level protection throughout the bulk of their range and are currently under consideration for federal protection. As a consequence, documenting their occurrence across their range is a conservation imperative. Environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques detect DNA shed by animals into the environment to determine whether a species inhabits an area of interest.  Due to their low detection probability at the edge of their range, eDNA may present a cost-effective method for M. temminckii surveys. We used an ongoing M. temminckii reintroduction in Illinois to test the efficacy of eDNA methods to determine detection limits using radio-telemetered individuals. Water samples were taken from known turtle locations, as well as random locations upstream and downstream from turtles.  M. temminckii eDNA detections were positively correlated with turtle presence but showed limited downstream transport. Results from the Illinois methods-testing were applied to an eDNA survey of M. temminckii in two watersheds in Indiana, identifying locations with potential M. temminckii presence. Our results demonstrate that eDNA may be a viable means of detecting M. temminckii and could be utilized to better target areas to focus traditional sampling efforts.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST
VETERANS MEETING ROOM A/B

4:40pm EST

(WILDLIFE: TURTLES) Spatiotemporal Investigation of Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) Hematology and Pathogen Detection Through a Longitudinal Study in Central Illinois
AUTHORS: Jeremy M. Rayl, Marta Kelly, Michelle Beermann, Matthew C. Allender – Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

ABSTRACT: Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina), a declining species across most of its range, are threatened by disease events including ranaviral disease, mycoplasmosis, and herpesviral infections, but individual host hematologic responses are largely unknown. At a site with known amphibian and box turtle ranavirus outbreaks, a cohort of eastern box turtles (N=36) was investigated using radio telemetry. Location and temperature data were collected over two active seasons and brumation periods (2016-2018). Bi-weekly, turtles were sampled for blood and oral-cloacal swabs for hematology and pathogen detection. All turtles were negative for ranavirus over the study period. Total white blood cells, heterophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, and monocytes were greater in females compared to males. Total solids, total white blood cells, heterophils, and lymphocytes showed decreasing patterns in both sexes during the active season. Home ranges and average daily movement were not significantly predicted by hematology or pathogen detection. These data add to the long-term health monitoring of eastern box turtle populations in central Illinois. With repeated measures, we have an increased ability to find complex spatiotemporal relationships between box turtle movement, hematology, and pathogens. In conjunction with long-term cross sectional surveys, a more complete picture of box turtle health related to these variables can be developed with this site as an example within central Illinois. 

Tuesday January 29, 2019 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST
VETERANS MEETING ROOM A/B