We investigated variation of incidentally captured turtle mortality in response to environmental factors and passive fishing techniques. We used Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) data collected from 1996 to 2001 in the unimpounded upper Mississippi River (UMR) adjacent to Missouri and Illinois, USA. We used a principle components analysis (PCA) and a stepwise discriminant function analysis to identify factors correlated with mortality of captured turtles. Furthermore, we were interested in what percentage of turtles died from passive fishing techniques and what technique(s) caused the most turtle mortality. The main factors influencing captured turtle mortality were water temperature and depth at net deployment. Fyke nets captured the most turtles and caused the most turtle mortality. Almost 90% of mortalities occurred in offshore aquatic areas (i.e., side channel or tributary). Our results provide information on causes of turtle mortality (as bycatch) in a riverine system and implications for river turtle conservation by suggesting management strategies to reduce turtle bycatch and decrease mortality of captured turtles.
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Vol. 68 • No. 4