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Spatial and temporal habitat-use patterns of wood turtles at the western edge of their distribution

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Journal of Herpetology. 50(3): 347-356.


Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) are a state threatened species at the western edge of their geographic distribution in Minnesota, United States. There is currently little published information regarding habitat use of western populations to assist with conservation initiatives. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate habitat use of a population of Wood Turtles in northeastern Minnesota to determine if habitat-use patterns were similar to other regions. In addition, we assessed the efficacy of two land-cover data sets (National Land Cover Dataset and LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type), relative to an aerial-photo–based habitat layer, for assessing habitat use and delineating preferred or avoided habitat classes. We performed this analysis to gauge the value of widely used habitat layers forWood Turtle management and research. We used radio telemetry data collected on 8 males and 14 females between May and November 1990 to assess habitat associations and space-use patterns. We found that Wood Turtles heavily used and generally remained within 100 m of flowing water. Individuals also appeared to prefer other aquatic and semiaquatic habitats when not in or adjacent to flowing water. Despite this population inhabiting a primarily forested landscape, we found little evidence that forest habitat classes were preferred by this species; however, forest age could be an important variable, with younger, more open forest types being used more frequently. We found that neither NLCD nor LANDFIRE were adequate for assessing habitat associations or delineating habitat classes at the scale at which Wood Turtles use the landscape.


Brown, Donald J.; Nelson, Mark D.; Rugg, David J.; Buech, Richard R.; Donner, Deahn M. 2016. Spatial and temporal habitat-use patterns of wood turtles at the western edge of their distribution. Journal of Herpetology. 50(3): 347-356.

Last updated on: September 7, 2016