Resource Selection and Space Use of Three-Toed Box Turtles
Period: January 15, 2001 – May 20, 2003
Contact: Joshua Millspaugh
Organization: University of Missouri
Funding Source: Prairie Fork Trust and University of Missouri
Objectives: Translocation or displacement studies of box turtles are conducted to examine homing behavior (i.e., return to the original capture location). Typically, such studies focus on movement rates and time to return to the original capture location without considering resource use. Our purpose was to examine three-toed box turtle resource and space use patterns following an experimental displacement. We radio-tracked two populations of box turtles once every 28 hours from May–August 2002. The first population (resident) was located in Prairie Fork Conservation Area in Callaway County, Missouri. The second population (displaced) was from the Thomas S. Baskett Wildlife Research and Education Center in Boone County, Missouri, located 35 km west-southwest of Prairie Fork. Our metric for space use was the utilization distribution, which we used to examine the stability of space use of post-displacement box turtles to resident turtles. We observed a nearly complete overlap of utilization distributions of the two turtle populations, indicating that space use patterns were similar following displacement. We also used polytomous logistic regression to examine resource use patterns for each population and compared resource selection of pre-and post-displacement turtles to resident turtles. Resource selection patterns of displaced turtles immediately following translocation primarily reflected characteristics of the release site. The similarity in resource use patterns of displaced and resident turtles increased over time. Both resident and displaced turtles used large, linear forested patches, indicating the use of forested streams on Prairie Fork. Additionally, resident and displaced turtles used large open habitat patches. The use of open habitats may expose box turtles to many hazards, including mortality, particularly in areas undergoing extensive habitat management.