Date of Graduation

Spring 2012


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Day Ligon


Macrochelys temminckii, prey selection, diet overlap, population declines, turtle community

Subject Categories



In Oklahoma, the alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) has experienced declines and recent efforts to conserve the species have focused on reintroducing captive-reared juveniles. The effect of the reintroduction on other aquatic turtles is not known and feeding behavior of juvenile M. temminckii is not understood. The following studies were conducted to 1) compare the diet of captive-reared juvenile M. temminckii to that of wild juveniles and investigate the diet overlap of juvenile M. temminckii with adult female Graptemys ouachitensis in the Caney River, where M. temminckii have been recently reintroduced, in comparison to Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) where the two species have co-occurred indefinitely,; 2) determine if juveniles reared with exposure to a single food item exhibit innate feeding preferences; and 3) define the current status of aquatic turtles at SNWR in comparison to data collected a decade ago. There were noticeable differences between the diet of captive-reared and wild juvenile M. temminckii. There was greater overlap of juvenile M. temminckii and adult female G. ouachitensis diet at the Caney River. Juvenile M. temminckii showed some innate prey preference and foraging capability. There were large declines in trapping rates of all species, composition of the aquatic turtle community changed dramatically, and changes in the M. temminckii population indicate that unknown factors have impacted turtles at SNWR.


© Mitchell B. East

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