Spatial use and selection of habitat in a reintroduced population of alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii)


We introduced 250 alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) originating from a turtle farm in Arkansas into six pools adjacent to the Washita River in Johnston, Bryan, and Marshall counties, Oklahoma. Additionally, we released 16 captive-bred and reared juvenile turtles. We used radiotelemetry and mark-recapture to monitor dispersal of turtles, selection of microhabitat, and patterns of movement. We placed transmitters on 16 adult turtles from Arkansas and 16 captive-bred juveniles 2-4 years old. We recorded 198 locations of 32 individuals by radiotelemetry between May 2007 and August 2008. We recaptured 45 turtles one-five times using hoop nets employed for 501 trap-nights. We compared movement and selection of habitat between sexes and age classes for the parameters water depth, bottom temperature, turbidity, and canopy cover. Adults and juveniles chose shallower depths with more canopy than available randomly. Additionally, adults chose greater depths than did juveniles, and juveniles chose areas with more canopy than did adults. There was no difference in selection of habitat between sexes. Adults utilized a larger linear home range than did juveniles.



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The Southwestern Naturalist