The accuracy of using radiotelemetry for studying animal movements has not been fully investigated. Although telemetry is a technological advance for tracking animals, it may lack the accuracy of thread trailing for quantifying distance traveled. The objective of this study was to compare straight-line distance between consecutive telemetry locations of eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) and actual distances traveled between those locations using thread trailers. We randomly selected 20 radiotagged turtles per week. We radiolocated each of these turtles and attached a thread trailer for 24 ± 3 hours. We used the beginning and ending global positioning system (GPS) locations to calculate the straight-line distance, and we compared this distance to the actual distance the turtle moved (thread length). Thread-trailing distances were greater than telemetry distances (P < 0.001). We recommend that future studies investigating box turtle movements use thread trailing, though radiotelemetry may be accurate for coarse analysis of direct-route movements.
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