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Tuesday, January 30 • 10:40am - 11:00am
SYMPOSIA-06: Quantifying Home Ranges and Hibernacula Characteristics of Captive-Reared, Recently-Released Juvenile Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii)

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AUTHORS. Armand A. Cann, Loyola University of Chicago; Andrés G. Muñoz, Loyola University of Chicago; Leigh Anne Harden, Benedictine University; Joseph R. Milanovich, Loyola University of Chicago

ABSTRACT. Substantial threats to reptile species biodiversity have become apparent in the last few decades. This has been partly caused by significant losses in grasslands and their associate prairie-wetland ecosystems in the Midwestern region of the United States. One Midwestern prairie-wetland species, Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii), are at risk of extirpation due to loss of habitat, fragmentation, and increased predator populations. Consequently, many wildlife managers have invested in the conservation of this species. However, much of the spatial and habitat requirements for this early life stage (i.e. juveniles) are understudied. We released two yearly cohorts of juvenile, captive-reared E. blandingii in a prairie-wetland within the greater Chicago region in 2016 and 2017. Using ground-based radio-telemetry, we calculated seasonal home ranges (spring, summer, and fall) from May 2016 – November 2016, and April 2017 – August 2017. We calculated home ranges using Minimum Convex Polygons (MCP) and Kernel Density Estimates (KDE; at 50% and 95% CI) using ArcMap 10.4.1. Hibernacula characteristics were quantified using vegetation and soil composition (2016-17 winter) to determine whether selection of hibernacula locations were nonrandom. For the 2016 released cohort, we found significant differences in MCP home ranges between the spring and fall compared to summer, with home range size increasing in summer yet decreasing to comparable spring home range sizes in the fall. No measureable differences were found across KDE (50% nor 95%) home ranges in 2016. Among seasons, no significant differences were found for either yearly cohort (2016 nor 2017) in 2017 for any home range metric. Neither vegetation nor soil composition hibernacula characteristics differed from random points. Continued data collection is planned, and will provide wildlife managers with valuable insight into the ecology of juvenile Blanding’s Turtles raised in captivity and released into natural habitats.  

Tuesday January 30, 2018 10:40am - 11:00am CST