Nest-site selection can affect both the survival and fitness of female turtles and their offspring. In many turtle species, the nest environment determines the thermal regime during incubation, length of incubation period, sex ratio of the hatchlings, and exposure to predators and other forms of mortality for both mothers and their offspring. Between 1974 and 2012, we collected detailed data on habitat variables at 66 Glyptemys muhlenbergii (Bog Turtle) nests in 9 different bogs, fens, and wetland complexes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The nests had a mean elevation above the substrate of 8.2 cm, and many were shallow and located in raised tussocks of grass or sedges. Females covered most nests, but we also observed partially or completely uncovered eggs. Some females deposited eggs in communal nests; we found 4 nests with 2 separate clutches, and 2 nests with 3 clutches. Principal component analysis confirmed the importance of cover and vegetation to nest-site selection in this species. Availability of open, shade-free, wet nesting areas is an important habitat requirement for Bog Turtles.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3