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Wood Turtle Habitat Use in Western Edge of Distribution

Photo of Wood Turtle. Joel Flory, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Wood Turtle. Joel Flory, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Efforts to better understand habitat use patterns of the wood turtle at the western edge of their range is important for range-wide conservation. Forest Service scientists analyzed radio telemetry data from northeast Minnesota to assess habitat associations and space-use patterns and found wood turtles generally remained within 100 meters of flowing water, but they appeared to prefer other aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats when not adjacent to flowing water.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Donner, DeahnRugg, Dave
Research Location : Cloquet River, Minn.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 997

Summary

Forest Service researchers analyzed habitat-use patterns of wood turtles at the western edge of their geographic distribution in northeast Minnesota to determine if habitat-use patterns were similar to other regions. The wood turtle is a species of conservation concern that is semi-aquatic and depends heavily on suitable riverine waterways, but is largely terrestrial during summer months requiring knowledge of aquatic and terrestrial habitat use to create conservation plans. The researchers used radio telemetry data collected between May and November to assess habitat associations and space-use patterns. Wood turtles heavily used and generally remained within 100 meters of flowing water and appeared to prefer other aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats when not in or adjacent to flowing water. Although the study was done in primarily forested landscape, there was little evidence that forest habitat classes were preferred. However, younger, more open forest types were used more frequently. These results show variability in habitat-use patterns across their distribution range that will help sustain this species throughout the forest.

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