Spatial ecology and resource selection of eastern box turtles

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) are widely distributed throughout the eastern United States. Although once common throughout much of its distribution, the species has experienced declines in local populations. Understanding resource selection is important for the conservation of this species; however, few data exist on resource selection for eastern box turtles in the southeastern United States. We estimated home range and resource selection for 100 individual turtles in the Blue Ridge, Ridge and Valley, and Cumberland Plateau and Mountains physiographic regions in Tennessee, USA, from 2016 to 2018. We used step‐selection functions to investigate eastern box turtle resource selection during May–August 2017 and May–August 2018 at 2 spatial scales. We classified vegetation type, measured vegetation composition and structure, recorded time since fire, and measured coarse woody debris abundance at 1,225 used telemetry locations and 1,225 associated available points. Home range sizes averaged 9.3 ha ± 3.0 (SE) using minimum convex polygon analysis, 8.25 ha ± 2.88 using 95% kernel density analysis, and 1.50 ha ± 0.56 using 50% kernel density analysis. Box turtles selected areas with greater visual obstruction at the 0–0.25‐m level, greater amounts of 10‐hour and 100‐hour fuels (timelag categories used in fire‐danger ratings), and greater litter depths compared to available locations. Box turtles were more likely to select areas with greater cover of brambles and coarser woody debris and were less likely to select areas with less vegetation cover. Vegetation type and time since last fire did not affect selection. Our data suggest that management activities that encourage greater understory vegetation cover, greater visual obstruction at the 0–0.25‐m level, and greater bramble cover will enhance habitat quality for eastern box turtles. 

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial ecology and resource selection of eastern box turtles
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21945
Volume 84
Issue 8
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1590
Last page 1600
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