Habitat selection is important for a species' survival, and its identification represents a crucial component in the development of conservation strategies. Habitat selection occurs when habitats are used disproportionately to their availability, and what constitutes available habitat will depend on the biology of the species under investigation. Habitat selection and movement patterns of Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) in a population near Lake Huron, Ontario, were studied over two consecutive years using radio telemetry. Selection was assessed at two spatial scales (second order, home range from population range; and third order, locations from home range) using compositional analyses. Spotted Turtles shift macrohabitat use throughout the annual cycle, therefore seasonal habitat selection was also analyzed. Selection occurred at both scales tested, and the ranking of preferred habitats differed based on the scale of analysis. Selection differed across seasons (emergence, nesting, post-nesting), but was similar between the sexes. Despite seasonal shifts in macrohabitat selection, microhabitat used did not differ seasonally, but females were more likely to choose locations with cover in the late summer compared to males. Individuals selected overwintering sites that afforded structural protection and a temperature near 0°C. Movements were similar between the sexes, with a reduction in activity in July and August. The seasonal variability in habitat selection supports the need for surveys at multiple time-points within the year to fully document the critical habitat requirements of Spotted Turtles.
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Vol. 2010 • No. 1