Hatching success and predation of Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) eggs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Chelonian Conservation and Biology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Nest-site selection by most turtles affects the survival of females and their offspring. Although bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) do not typically leave their wetlands for nesting, nest-site selection can impact hatching success and hatchling survival. Between 1974 and 2012, we monitored the fates of 258 bog turtle eggs incubated in the field and 91 eggs incubated under laboratory conditions from 11 different bogs, fens, or wetland complexes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Laboratory-incubated eggs exhibited the greatest hatching success (81%), but we did not detect a significant difference in hatching success between nests protected with predator excluder cages (43%) and unprotected nests (33%). However, we found significantly lower predation rates in protected nests, suggesting that while predator excluder cages successfully reduced predation, other environmental factors persisted to reduce egg survival in the field. Natural hatching success was potentially reduced by poor weather conditions, which may have resulted in embryo developmental problems, dehydration, or embryos drowning in the egg. Our results suggest that egg depredation, coupled with embryo developmental problems and infertility, are limiting factors to hatching success in our study populations. Using predator excluder cages to protect bog turtle eggs in the field, or incubating eggs in the laboratory and releasing hatchlings at original nesting areas, may be an effective conservation tool for recovering populations of this federally threatened species.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hatching success and predation of Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) eggs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Series title Chelonian Conservation and Biology
DOI 10.2744/CCB-1237.1
Volume 16
Issue 2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Chelonian Research Foundation
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 194
Last page 202
Country United States
State New Jersey, Pennsylvania