Life History Traits and Spatial Ecology of the Striped Mud Turtle, Kinosternon baurii, in Central Florida

Date
2017-12
Authors
Stemle, Leyna R.
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Publisher
Florida Southern College
Abstract
The roles that turtles and tortoises (Testudines) play in their environments make them vital to protect, conserve, and study for the continued health of our world. In recent literature, the Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii) has been studied only a minute amount in Florida. Radio telemetry was used at Circle B Bar Reserve (CBR) on nine K. baurii, and long-term mark and recapture and life history data was collected that was essential for determining the size of this population. It was hypothesized that these mud turtles do not have a large home range, and that their overall health would be excellent due to the general lack of anthropogenic factors in their environment on the reserve. Our data indicates that these mud turtles have a fairly small home range (1,111.2-14,395.5 m2) with some males and gravid females generally having a larger area that they frequent. The health of the turtles was generally very good, as our marked turtles had clear eyes, energetic movements, and sturdy bodies. The population in the main area in which we set traps appeared to be fairly small (estimated at 38 adult individuals with the software program MARK), and we recaptured many of the same turtles. However, we did catch unmarked turtles occasionally and the age of the turtles in the reserve was varied, as multiple age classes were found. The sex ratio of the main canal in the reserve was female skewed (65.4 % females, p-value= .26). The data that was collected has helped Circle B Bar Reserve (CBR) understand more about their mud turtle population and expand their knowledge of the wildlife they protect. With unexpected low numbers and a female-biased sex ratio, the future of K. baurii must be carefully monitored, especially with the continued rise of urbanization and a warmer climate. If a small population is continually found, management practices may become a key component in conserving mud turtles. With more knowledge on their ecology, population size and movements, Circle B and other reserves/parks can better accommodate these turtles for the maximum protection from anthropogenic effects in the future.
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Keywords
Turtles, Kinosternidae, Conservation biology, Ecology
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