Microhabitat Use by Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) and Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) in a Shared Landscape

2020-05-08T02:33:22Z (GMT) by Reine K Sovey

Understanding and adequately protecting habitat is at the forefront of modern conservation concerns. Turtles are especially vulnerable to habitat loss, and are therefore a top priority for habitat research. To help meet this need, I used radio telemetry to collect microhabitat data from two imperiled species of turtles that occupy a military base in Michigan. Preliminary data exploration was carried out with principal components analysis (PCA). Microhabitat use was then modeled for each species using conditional logistic regression (CLR), with a generalized estimating equation (GEE) element to limit bias due to individual variation. Finally, I compared habitat use between sympatric Blanding’s and Wood Turtles using Mann-Whitney U tests and Mood’s median tests to investigate the degree of overlap in microhabitat use when these species occur in sympatry. Evidence for microhabitat selection in Blanding’s Turtles was weak, suggesting that they likely do not make habitat decisions at this level. Wood Turtles selected sites that were farther from water and had fewer trees, less overstory canopy cover, and more ground cover. Additionally, the two species differed in several aspects of microhabitat use; Wood Turtles were more terrestrial and more tolerant of tree cover than Blanding’s Turtles. Patterns of microhabitat use found in this study match previously observed behavior of turtles in high quality habitat, suggesting that managers should work to maintain the habitat currently available at Camp Grayling. Additionally, because both turtle species were associated with open canopy, selective logging could benefit turtles provided care is given to timing and methods.