Date of Award

6-2020

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.

Department

Biology

College

College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

William Cook

Second Advisor

Matthew Julius

Third Advisor

Jennifer Lamb

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey Torguson

Creative Commons License

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

Abstract

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.

Comments/Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. William Cook, for his support and assistance throughout my research. Dr. Cook gave me a chance and took me on as his advisee, and for that I am thankful. Next, I would like to thank my committee members, Dr. Matthew Julius, Dr. Jennifer Lamb, and Dr. Jeffrey Torguson. Dr. Julius encouraged me to pursue a master’s degree during my undergrad. Without his encouragement, I do not know if I would be here. Dr. Lamb was always there to answer my questions and was so gracious to lend her immense knowledge in the discipline of herpetology. Dr. Torguson helped uncover a passion I did not know I have for GIScience. He taught me critical skills necessary for creating effective thematic maps and never gave up on me, even when my maps were not so effective. I would also like to thank the Environmental staff at Camp Ripley, especially Brian Dirks and Nancy Dietz, for offering their time to help me not only complete my research project but succeed in the field of wildlife management. This project would not be possible without the joining support of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota National Army Guard. Your financial investment has helped increase the limited research on the demographics of hatchling Blanding’s turtles. I would also like the thank the many individuals who volunteered their time through numerous hours of field work: Alex Seymour, Angeline Erickson, Bailey Richards, Beth Walters, Betsy Heid, Brook Hoffman, Chelsea Anderson, Cheyanne Rose, Gabe Nelson, Jason Hilst, Joseph Weaver, Kendahl Chergosky, Kennedy Petit, Krista Anderson, Maxim Kroll, Natalie Fredrickson, Nate Weisenberg, Noel Jones, Spencer Melby, and all the CLC interns over the years. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my family for the encouragement to pursue my passions, the willingness to lend a hand at any moment of need, and the confidence they have in me to make a difference.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.