Ecological Aspects of a Wood Turtle, Glyptemys insculpta, Population at the Northern Limit of its Range in Québec
Keywords:Wood Turtle, Glyptemys insculpta, Emydidae, morphology, density, ecology, Québec
AbstractAs part of a conservation research initiative, a population of Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) at the northern limit of its range was studied to ascertain characteristics of its demographics, morphometrics, density, mortality, feeding, and mating activities. Turtles were captured and marked during the activity period in 1996 and 1997. In addition, 20 individuals were radio-tracked weekly. A total of 188 turtles was captured and the size of the population in the study area was estimated at 238 turtles. The estimated population density based on this calculation is 0.44 turtles/ha. This is less than other studies indicating that population densities are greater in southern populations. Turtles from this population were large (carapace length of males=214.5 ± 4.21 mm, females=201.1 ± 10.88 mm) which supports the hypothesis that turtle size is negatively correlated with number of frost free days. The sex ratio was not significantly different from 1:1. Juvenile turtles accounted for 31.4% of the population. Observations of feeding habits support the claim that Wood Turtles are opportunistic omnivores. Of the 35 mating or courtship events observed, 77 % occurred in the fall and half of them between 11:00 and 13:00. Although limb and tail injuries and parasites were observed on many turtles, no dead turtles were observed. This last result, combined with the high rate of recruitment and even sex ratio suggests that this population is stable, making it an ideal population with which to make comparisons with other studies in areas where the species could be in decline.
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