The importance of turtle populations to wetland restoration in the upper Mississippi embayment of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Wetlands Ecology and Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Upper Mississippi Embayment (UME) ecoregion covers approximately 141,895 km2 and historically supported 9,712,455 ha of bottomland deciduous forests, swamps, bayous, and rivers. Only about 500 ha (< 0.01%) of pre-settlement bottomland hardwood forest habitat in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) in the UME remained by the 1940s because the timber was clearcut and the wetlands drained for agriculture. By 1983 only a few scattered cypress-tupelo swamps remained. We studied the freshwater turtle community in Allred Lake, Missouri, a rare remnant of this ecosystem and compared these results to those from two other study sites in the MAV, Big Oak Tree State Park (BOTSP), Missouri, and Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge (CRNWR), Mississippi. Species richness included six species commonly found throughout the MAV. One species (Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans) dominated density and biomass in all three assemblages. The occurrence of the six species we studied in man-made restored wetlands such as those in BOTSP and CRNWR indicate these turtles would adapt to restored wetlands in the MAV in southeastern Missouri and elsewhere in the ecosystem. We provide information on habitat features that could be included in restoration design and construction that would benefit turtles. Given the ongoing worldwide decline of turtles, consideration of turtle ecology and behavior in wetland restoration projects in the MAV may be warranted.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The importance of turtle populations to wetland restoration in the upper Mississippi embayment of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Series title Wetlands Ecology and Management
DOI 10.1007/s11273-019-09686-z
Edition Online First
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Country United States
State Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee
Other Geospatial Allred Lake, Big Oak Tree State Park, Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge