Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.
College of Science and Engineering
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Habitat Selection, Blanding's turtle, hatchling conservation, movement patterns
The Blanding’s turtle, Emydoidea blandingii, is a threatened semi-aquatic freshwater turtle ranging from the upper Midwest to Southeastern Canada, with isolated populations in Eastern states and provinces. Information regarding the spatial ecology and demography of the species is essential to population recovery. Although habitat utilization and spatial ecology of the adult Blanding’s turtle has been well studied, little information is known about hatchlings following nest emergence. At Camp Ripley Training Center, hatchlings are relocated from protected nests to wetland complexes following emergence as an attempt to reduce mortality and eliminate a long journey to water. However, the success of this management strategy is still unknown. The objectives of this study are to 1) quantify the distances traveled and survivorship of hatchlings between release strategies, 2) discover whether hatchlings select aquatic or terrestrial habitat for hibernation through a third order habitat selection analysis, 3) identify the selection of habitat characteristics at hatchling locations through a fourth order habitat selection analysis, and 4) determine the most effective hatchling release strategy: either a) release hatchlings into the nearest wetland complex or b) release hatchlings directly at the nest site. In 2017 and 2018, transmitters were attached to hatchlings following nest emergence and escorted to wetland complexes frequently utilized for hatchling release. In 2019, hatchlings were released at the nest-site to compare movement patterns, survivorship, and habitat selections of hatchlings based on release strategy. Spatial distribution and macro-habitat selection were analyzed using ArcGIS and the Euclidean distance method. Micro-habitat selection was quantified through a series of paired t-tests and logistic regressions. The results suggest that hatchlings travel significantly farther when released at the nest site compared to wetland release but there is no significant difference in survival between release strategies. Hatchlings released in wetlands used the edges of uplands and wetlands non-randomly, however, there was no significant difference in habitat use between wetlands and uplands. Hatchlings released at the nest site used uplands non-randomly and wetlands randomly. Uplands were significantly preferred over wetlands when hatchlings were released at the nest site. Between release strategies, hatchlings selected for greater substrate depths and more moss vegetation. From the findings of this research, it is recommended that wetland release continues, however, hatchlings should be released in wetlands characterized by waterlogged substrates that do not contain large bodies of open water. Additionally, land management practices should be updated to include buffer zones around wetlands, as upland habitat was shown to play an important role during the first hibernation for hatchling Blanding’s turtles at Camp Ripley.
Nyhus, Arika, "Hibernacula Site Selection of Hatchling Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii)" (2020). Culminating Projects in Biology. 50.