Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Science and Biology

Abstract

I studied the movements, activity centers, and horne ranges of Blanding' s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) at three sites in St. Lawrence County, New York where it is currently listed as State Threatened. I monitored 24 adult Blanding' s turtles (seven males and 1 7 females) using radiotelemetry from May 2003- August 2004 to provide information on spatial requirements and movements in previously undocumented populations at the easternmost limit of this species' contiguous range, Movement and home range analyses were performed on 1 6 telemetered adult Blanding's turtles (4 males and 1 2 females) with a minimum of 20 locations and assignment of a radio transmitter from at least 1 0 June through 1 5 October in either 2003 or 2004, which covered the majority of the active season. There was no significant difference between male and female home range sizes within and between the study sites, which differed in available wetland area. Additionally, there was no significant difference among the home range sizes of females at each study site. Based on the Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP) home range estimate, the mean home range area for all telemetered females was 1 2.26 (1 . 1 3- 44. 1 4) ha and 7.54 (± 2.63) ha for telemetered males (n = 4). Home range size differed significantly between female and males. The number of activity centers differed among the females (n = 1 2) ranging from one to five. Males (n = 4) had a greater number of activity centers than females, ranging from two to four. In this study, daily movements of males (x = 46.03 ±5 . 1 2 m) were significantly longer and more frequent than females (x = 20.77 ±7. 1 8 m). Four of females that were radio-tagged in 2003 and followed through 2004 showed nest site fidelity across both years. These females traveled up to 1 3 65 m round-trip to nesting areas and back to their home wetlands in consecutive years. A management and conservation concern identified in this study that could have a negative impact on the Blanding's turtle populations in northern New York is the location of nesting areas. Telemetry data revealed that gravid females utilize areas up to 1.5 km away from resident wetlands for nesting. My study suggests that areas in the vicinity of occupied wetlands that are suitable for nesting are very important to the longevity of these populations. Further studies on the distribution, population dynamics, habitat use and requirements, and nesting ecology of Blanding's turtle populations in northern New York should be conducted to assist with the conservation of this species in the eastern periphery of its contiguous Great Lakes range.

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