Understanding space-use patterns of freshwater turtle hatchlings is critical to guide conservation efforts, yet little is known because of the difficulties in studying this early life-history stage. We investigated post-emergence movements and habitat associations of western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) at two study sites in western Oregon using micro-transmitters and harmonic radar methods. Hatchlings delayed emergence until spring, with few exceptions. Hatchlings typically remained within 2 m of nests for as long as 59 d after initial emergence. During migration from their nests to aquatic habitat, hatchlings embedded themselves in soil for up to 22 d at stop-over sites. Movements between successive stop-over sites averaged 27 m. Although the number of days turtles remained within 2 m of their nest following emergence varied widely among and within nests, hatchlings entered aquatic habitat relatively synchronously. Hatchlings entered aquatic habitat on average 49 d after initial emergence, and traveled an average of 89 m from their nest site. Hatchlings detected in water were always within 1 m of shore and in areas with dense submerged vegetation and woody debris. Because of delayed emergence and extended post-emergent use of the area adjacent to nests, managers must consider the trade-offs of managing vegetation for nest habitat and the potential harm to hatchlings by vegetation management near nests.
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