Date of Graduation

Fall 2015


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Day Ligon


ornate box turtle, Terrapene ornata, reintroduction biology, head-starting, soft-release, sex determination, home range, microhabitat, activity, diet

Subject Categories



The ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata) is a prairie-dwelling species that has experienced population declines, especially near the northern edge of its range. In order to provide supporting research for a reintroduction program at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in northwestern Illinois, I compared the relative success of different approaches to reintroduction. Specifically, I tested the null hypothesis that reintroduced turtles exhibited equal reintroduction success when, 1) released at a site that is known to support a viable ornate box turtle population, 2) ‘soft-released' in a fenced enclosure at a site where very few ornate box turtles persist, or 3) ‘hard-released' at the same site without the protection of a fence. I also characterized important habitat components that are likely to maximize the quality of a reintroduction site. By many measures, the three treatments returned comparable results. Home ranges were not smaller when turtles were confined to a soft release enclosure, growth rates were not significantly influenced by either the enclosure or by whether or not the release location already supported an ornate box turtle population, diet was similarly varied among all three treatments, and mortality rates during the activity season were similarly low across the three treatments.


© Eric R. Sievers

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