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Christina Demetrio, MS, is a 2019 graduate of the MS Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England

Thesis Committee:

  • Lisabeth Willey, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Michael Jones, PhD, Committee Member
  • Mark Danaher, Committee Member

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

2019

Abstract

Limited information is available on the ecology of Terrapene bauri (Florida Box Turtle) in mangrove ecosystems. Radio-telemetry and iButton data loggers were used to study the home range, habitat use, and thermal ecology of ten Florida Box Turtles on an anthropogenic island in the mangrove-dominated region of southwestern Florida. The effects of weather variables on movement and activity were also examined. Home range analysis using Minimum Convex Polygons (MCP) and Kernel Density Estimates (KDE) determined an average home range size of 0.81 ha (MCP) and 2.32 ha (95% KDE). Box Turtles moved an average distance of 6.3 m per day and 46.1 m between weekly locations. Habitat analysis using both field data and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) indicated tropical hardwood hammock as the dominant habitat type used in Box Turtle home ranges. Mangrove forests, shrub-scrub-cactus, and shell barren habitats were also utilized. There were no significant differences in home range size or habitat use between the sexes. Activity appeared to increase during the wet season from May to October. Logistic regression models found humidity and temperature to be significantly correlated to turtle activity. Increases in humidity resulted in increases in turtle activity whereas increases in temperature resulted in decreased activity. Linear regression models found turtle movement significantly increased with precipitation. Larger movements appeared to occur after precipitation that was preceded by drier conditions. Temperature data loggers recorded mean carapace temperatures of 25.3°C as well as temperatures up to 40.1°C, which is close to the critical thermal maximum for turtles in the genus Terrapene. These results provide baseline information on Box Turtles near their southern range limit, which may become increasingly important for conservation efforts as changes to southern Florida occur from expected climate change.

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Christina Demetrio

ORCID Scholar ID# : 0000-0002-5867-2200

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