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27 June 2012 The Effects of Flooding on the Spatial Ecology of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) in a Partially Mined Peatland
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Many studies have focused on the effects of anthropogenic habitat alterations on animals, but little attention has been given to the effects of natural changes in habitat. The purpose of our study was to examine the effects of flooding caused by Beaver (Castor canadensis) dams on the spatial ecology of the federally endangered Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata), in a bog in Ontario that was historically drained for peat extraction. We hypothesized that home range sizes and daily distances traveled would be greater after flooding and that habitat selection would change because turtles would exploit the increase in aquatic habitats post-flooding. Using 12 years of mark–recapture data, radio telemetry, and GIS software, we compared movements and habitat selection before and after flooding. Distances traveled and home range sizes were larger post-flood compared to pre-flood conditions, indicating that turtles were opportunistically exploring the new aquatic habitat. During pre-flooding, turtles primarily selected the drainage ditches created to facilitate peat extraction; these were the only aquatic habitat available. After flooding, there was a strong preference for newly flooded areas and drainage ditches, showing that turtles exploited the increase in available aquatic habitat. Our findings indicate that natural habitat alteration resulting from Beaver dam flooding may be beneficial for Spotted Turtles, although observations also suggest that nesting habitat may be limited due to the flooding, and further research is needed to determine the effect of the flooding on recruitment into the population.
2012 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Katharine T. Yagi and Jacqueline D. Litzgus "The Effects of Flooding on the Spatial Ecology of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) in a Partially Mined Peatland," Copeia 2012(2), (27 June 2012).
Received: 29 July 2011; Accepted: 1 January 2012; Published: 27 June 2012

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