We studied Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) microhabitat in natural wetlands and wetlands constructed for the turtles in Dutchess County, New York, USA. Investigation of these topics can provide information on ways to increase the extent of Blanding's turtle habitat, improve its quality, and assure that conservation or restoration managers do not overlook key habitat characteristics. Microhabitat was determined by radiotracking individuals to their exact locations and recording habitat variables. Blanding's turtles were associated with shallow water depths (𝑥̄ = 30 cm), muck substrates, and areas of abundant vegetation (total cover 𝑥̄ = 87%). Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) had the greatest mean total cover (29%). In the constructed wetlands, Blanding's turtles were associated with significantly less cover and warmer water than in the natural wetlands. Blanding's turtles appeared to be using the constructed wetlands to bask and forage in the spring and early summer but moved to deeper wetlands in late summer when the constructed wetlands dried up or became too warm. For Blanding's turtles, new habitat should contain abundant emergent vegetation (including buttonbush in Dutchess County and other areas where the turtles are known to use buttonbush swamps), basking areas, muck, floating plant material, and submerged aquatic vegetation. Blanding's turtle's use of constructed wetlands highlights the value of a complex of connected wetland habitats in providing for the varied needs of the turtle.
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Vol. 71 • No. 2