An estimate of home range size and temporal aspects of hibernation for the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) in a suburban wetland habitat of Middle Tennessee
Jessica M. Vannatta, Daniel R. Istvanko, and Matthew Klukowski
Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) are known for spending most of their lives within a defined home range, but there is variation in home range size depending upon both biotic and abiotic factors. Our objective was to use radio-telemetry to estimate home range for Eastern Box Turtles (n = 6) in a suburban wetland habitat in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA. In addition, we characterized temporal aspects of hibernation, including immergence, emergence, and duration. The 95% fixed kernel (FK) home range estimates for two female turtles and one male turtle averaged 1.50 ± 1.18 ha. The 50% FK core areas for the same three turtles were small and averaged 0.19 ± 0.15 ha. The 95% minimum convex polygon (MCP) home range estimates for four female and two male box turtles averaged 1.19 ± 1.67 ha. Turtles entered their hibernacula in November and emerged in April, spending an average of 149 ± 9.44 d in hibernation. To our knowledge, this is the first study to quantify home range and describe temporal aspects of hibernation for Eastern Box Turtles in middle Tennessee, as well as one of the few studies examining these aspects in a suburban wetland habitat. This baseline information provides general aspects of box turtle ecology and can be used for identifying minimum conservation areas necessary to preserve box turtle populations considering that habitat quality and fragmentation affect home range size and regional variation affects timing of hibernation.
Key Words.—conservation, fidelity, habitat, hibernaculum, management, mark-recapture, radio-telemetry