Effective protection of habitats for rare or declining species depends on a fundamental understanding of species' movements and space use. We studied the spatial ecology of 2 populations of Clemmys guttata (Spotted Turtle) in southeastern Georgia. We attached radio transmitters to 29 individuals and located them for a 9-month (April–December) period during 2016. We found that home ranges of individual Spotted Turtles were generally small, varying from 0.38 to 6.14 ha at Site 1 and from 0.39 to 8.21 ha at Site 2 (95% minimum convex polygon estimates). Estimates for the space used by the population as a whole varied from 26.7 to 49.4 ha at Site 1 and 11.1 to 14.5 ha at Site 2. Movement distances decreased from ∼15 m/day during the spring to <5 m/day in late summer and fall. Our results indicate that some Spotted Turtle populations in Georgia utilize relatively small areas of interconnected wetland complexes. Protecting wetland complexes along with the surrounding upland habitat will allow Spotted Turtle populations to move between wetlands and exploit riparian areas during certain times of the year without suffering the negative effects of fragmentation.
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Vol. 18 • No. 4