Defense Date

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Joy Ware

Abstract

Box turtle (Terrapene carolina) populations have been declining over the last several decades, and one major cause is increasing urbanization. As a result of habitat fragmentation, wildlife managers are frequently turning to new and alternative management strategies. Traditional box turtle management has included relocation, which has been met with limited success. This study aims to combine these strategies with another less-studied one: forcing turtles to overwinter on site by penning them in an outdoor enclosure. Two sets of juvenile box turtles were released at the Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Center: one penned on site in a pen for one year, the other allowed to move freely. Our objective was to compare a variety of factors between these two groups to see if penning was as effective as traditional approaches. Movement and location patterns were tracked using radio transmitters for two years and analyzed using GPS technology. Body condition and health status of all turtles were measured and compared over time as well. Finally, a life history model was developed to determine the effectiveness of management programs. While the penning treatment significantly reduced activity areas, it appears that all juvenile turtles had high site fidelity (87.5%) regardless of treatment. The eastern box turtle seems to be a prime candidate for penning used in conjunction with other management options.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009

Included in

Biology Commons

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