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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Evaluating Potential Effects of Proximity to Roadways in a Road-naïve Population of Turtles

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AUTHORS: Marcel Weigand, Christopher Tonra, Ryan Wagner, Viorel Popescu - Ohio University

ABSTRACT: Roadways are the single largest man-made structure in the United States, and their ecological effects are conspicuous. Turtles are among the vertebrate taxa most affected by roadways because of their low vagility and use of roadway habitats. While studies have documented some consequences of transportation infrastructure on turtles and other herpetofauna, many impacts remain unknown. This is particularly true in the case of road-naïve populations, where a lack of previous exposure to roadways could provide insight into potential and related biological and physiological challenges posed to animals within the affected area. In 2013, the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio was bisected by a high-traffic, high-speed, four-lane highway. This previously intact forest habitat is populated by numerous species and the impacts of the new roadway have not yet been quantified for most, including Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina), a Species of Concern in Ohio and at risk throughout its North American range. Through the use of a control-impact study, we evaluated the potential ecological and physiological effects of proximity to roadways in a road-naïve population of turtles, compared to a population unaffected by paved roads. We employed radio-telemetry and temperature loggers to evaluate space use, movement behaviour, and habitat selection by turtles relative to their proximity to the highway. We used novel techniques in corticosterone testing (using nail keratin samples) to evaluate the presence of chronic stress in animals both near the highway and inhabiting an intact section in the same forest. Spatial analyses provide insight into turtle behaviour, predict specific vulnerabilities to roadways in long-lived herpetofauna, and inform conservation strategies and policy decisions related to wildlife road mortality mitigation efforts.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer