Jessica M. Vannatta and Matthew Klukowski

Thread-trailing is a tracking technique used to monitor precise movements of turtles, but there are positive and negative aspects to using this method. Thread-trailing is inexpensive but can be labor-intensive, and there are often issues with the apparatus itself. We employed thread-trailing devices to track Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in a suburban wetland habitat in middle Tennessee, USA. Unfortunately, we had limited success that was likely due to insufficient attachment and wet weather conditions at our field site. However, many researchers have used thread-trailing devices successfully, and this method is often used in conjunction with other tracking methods, such as radio-telemetry or mark-recapture. We discuss the pros and cons of thread-trailing based on our experiences with this method, compare thread-trailing to other common tracking methods, and make recommendations about the thread-trailing apparatus. This information will aid other researchers in determining if the thread-trailing technique is appropriate for monitoring turtles in their study, and if so, how to best construct the thread-trailing device.


Key Words.—mark-recapture, movement, radio-telemetry, thread-trailer, tracking