Reproduction and Movement Patterns of the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra Serpentina) Inhabiting a Hypothermic Reservoir in Southwest Missouri

Date of Graduation

Spring 1999


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Don Moll


In an attempt to determine whether water temperature alters reproductive and movement patterns of the common snapping turtle, (Chelydra serpentina), two populations were sampled from April through August, 1995-97. The study sites included a hypothermic cove located near Rockaway Beach, Missouri, and a normothermic cove associated with Bull Creek, a tributary of Lake Taneycomo. Turtles were trapped using a variety of methods including baited hoop nets, baited fyke nets, and hand captures. Reproductive data were collected from nineteen Rockaway Beach females and fifteen Bull Creek females. Mean adult female plastron length, egg mass, and egg mass index were not significantly different for the two sites (P > 0.05). Mean clutch size and relative clutch mass were significantly larger for the Rockaway Beach population (P < 0.05). Egg mass did not vary with plastron length at either site. Clutch size and clutch mass increased with plastron length within both populations. Egg mass index decreased with plastron length within both populations. Relative clutch mass did not vary with plastron length for either population. No evidence of a trade off between egg size and clutch size was found for either site. Three turtles from each site were located by radiotelemetry during the summer of 1997. Mean home range size and home range index were not significantly different between sites (P > 0.05). Radio-tagged individuals from Bull Creek maintained significantly greater distances between turtles (DBT) than at Rockaway Beach (P = 0.0003). The two sites yielded significantly different frequency distributions for DBT (P = 0.0007). Observed DBT and distances expected from a random placement of turtles within their home ranges were similar in both mean and frequency distribution for both populations (P > 0.05).

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© Timothy B Wilson