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12 February 2019 The Effects of Road Mortality on Small, Isolated Turtle Populations
Hunter J. Howell, Richard A. Seigel
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Roads impact wildlife in a variety of direct and indirect ways. Roads may act as barriers to dispersal, lead to decreasing population size and genetic diversity, change animal behavior, result in direct mortality, and increase habitat disturbance. Road mortality is especially detrimental to long-lived species, such as freshwater turtles, whose population persistence relies on high adult and subadult survivorship to counter high egg and hatchling mortality. The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a small-bodied, freshwater turtle species that is listed as endangered in Canada and proposed for federal listing in the United States. We used a population viability analysis to attempt to quantify the impact that road mortality has on two distinct populations of Spotted Turtles. The baseline model for the North Wetland Complex (NWC) population predicted a probability of quasi-extinction within 150 yr of 20%. The baseline model for the South Wetland Complex (SWC) predicted a probability of quasi-extinction within 150 yr of 24%. Including an estimate of road mortality (modeled as a reduction in adult survival through annual catastrophic events) into the models, the probability of quasiextinction within 150 yr changed to 93% for the NWC and 94% for the SWC. Our results highlight the critical importance that anthropogenic additive adult mortality has on small populations of turtles and the necessity of detailed demographic studies to detect potential declines in populations of long-lived species.

Copyright 2019 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Hunter J. Howell and Richard A. Seigel "The Effects of Road Mortality on Small, Isolated Turtle Populations," Journal of Herpetology 53(1), 39-46, (12 February 2019).
Accepted: 21 December 2018; Published: 12 February 2019

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