WELCOME TO THE CFZ BLOG NETWORK: COME AND JOIN THE FUN

Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

EXPEDITIONS: Sumatra / Richard Freeman -- update

Graham reports that Richard's now safely back in Exeter, having returned from Sumatra.  He phoned in yesterday evening and sounded pleased with how things went.

As reported a few days ago the team

  • Found footprints of at least three different individuals
  • Heard orang pendek calling in the jungle
  • Got new and important witness testimony
  • Collected "lots" of hair samples


More updates and reports to follow.

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

News and stories from the remoter fringes of the CFZ blogosphere...

From Nick Redfern's World of Whatever:
From CFZ Australia:
From CFZ New Zealand:

FORTEAN BIRD NEWS FROM THE WATCHER OF THE SKIES

In an article for the first edition of Cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans wrote that cryptozoology is the study of 'unexpected animals' and following on from that perfectly reasonable assertion, it seems to us that whereas the study of out-of-place birds may not have the glamour of the hunt for bigfoot or lake monsters, it is still a perfectly valid area for the Fortean zoologist to be interested in. So after about six months of regular postings on the main bloggo Corinna took the plunge and started a 'Watcher of the Skies' blog of her own as part of the CFZ Bloggo Network.


Pathfinder: State bird neither lark nor bunting but takes the name of both

32 endangered birds released into the wild

Bird Enthusiasts in East Lancashire asked for help

DALE DRINNON: Minnesota Iceman, Benny's Blogs, and others


New at the Frontiers of Zoology and other spots......



New At The Frontiers of Zoology:

New At Cedar and Willow, Dr Who's Family Tree:

New at Benny's Blog for Thelma Todd:

New on Benny's Other Blog, The Ominous Octopus Omnibus:

THE GONZO BLOG DOO-DAH MAN MIGHT BE HOT

Graham here again, on what we're told is likely to be the hottest day of the year so far. Nothing compared to Arizona recently, of course, but it already feels pretty hot.

I daresay it's equally hot where Jon and Corinna are, but at least he can have the car window open for a blast of air.

I think a glass of lime squash beckons soon.

So... What's new on the Gonzo Daily?
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com

Ask YES (a fans' question-and-answer) - Alan White
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2013/07/ask-yes-alan-white.html

The Gonzo Track of the Day is from American band Backbiter, chainsawing their way through a Hawkwind song
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2013/07/gonzo-track-of-day-backbiter-do.html

BRAZILIAN REVIEW OF 'THE DUTCH WOODSTOCK' DVD
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2013/07/brazilian-review-of-dutch-woodstock.html

Another visit to our old friend Thom the World Poet.
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2013/07/thom-world-poet-daily-poem_13.html

HELEN McCOOKERYBOOK: Rrrants at the Camden Head... and some photos
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2013/07/helen-mccookerybook-rrrants-at-camden.html



*  The Gonzo Daily is a two-way process. If you have any news or want to write for us, please contact me at  jon@eclipse.co.uk. If you are an artist and want to showcase your work or even just say hello, please write to me at gonzo@cfz.org.uk. Please copy, paste and spread the word about this magazine as widely as possible. We need people to read us in order to grow, and as soon as it is viable we shall be invading more traditional magaziney areas. Join in the fun, spread the word, and maybe if we all chant loud enough we CAN stop it raining. See you tomorrow....

*  The Gonzo Daily is - as the name implies - a daily online magazine (mostly) about artists connected to the Gonzo Multimedia group of companies. But it also has other stuff as and when the editor feels like it. The same team also do a weekly newsletter called - imaginatively - The Gonzo Weekly. Find out about it at this link: http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-gonzo-news-wots-fit-to-print.html

* We should probably mention here, that some of our posts are links to things we have found on the internet that we think are of interest. We are not responsible for spelling or factual errors in other people's websites. Honest guv!

*  Jon Downes, the editor of all these ventures (and several others) is an old hippy of 53 who - together with his orange cat (who is currently on sick leave in Staffordshire) and two very small kittens (one of whom is also orange) puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon, which he shares with various fish, and sometimes a small Indian frog. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, his elderly mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus...did we mention the orange cat?

ABSTRACTS OF POSTERS FROM THE 2013 Box Turtle Conservation Workshop


March 22-23, 2013- North Carolina Zoological Park, Asheboro, NC
Reprinted Courtesy of North American Box Turtle Conservation Committer www.boxturtleconservation.org
Table of contents:
1) Resting Metabolism of Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina)
2) Photography as a Means of Identification of Individual Eastern Box Turtles, Terrapene carolina carolina
3) Parentage in the Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene c. carolina
4) Baseline Hematology and Plasma Biochemistry Values for Free-Ranging Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Illinois and Tennessee
5) Artificial Nest Experiments on Methods to Reduce Predation on Ornate Box Turtle Nests
6) Helping Box Turtles by Educating the Public
7) Road Mortality in Terrapene carolina and T. ornata: Are Females More at Risk?
8) Effect of Prescribed Fire on Overwintering Terrapene carolina
9) Young Citizen Scientists Tracking Box Turtles at the Lake Raleigh Area
10) Use of Automated Radio Telemetry to Detect Nesting Activity in Ornate Box Turtles, Terrapene ornata 
11) Patterns of Morphological Variation in the Shell of the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
12) Likelihood of Turtle Mortality During Attempted Road Crossing
13) Risk and Response of Box Turtles to Prescribed Fire
______________________________________________________
1) Resting Metabolism of Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina)
Eva Grebe1 and C. M. Gienger
Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN
Measuring the Standard Metabolic Rates (SMR) of ectotherms is key to understanding their thermal physiology and understanding the potential impacts of an altered global climate. We measured SMR of box turtles from a population in Tennessee (USA) and determine how variation in body size and temperature influence patterns of resting energy use. Our results indicate that across both juvenile and adult body sizes, individuals tested at 30C have approximately double the SMR as individuals tested at 20C. There is also no indication that a difference exists in male versus female SMR at the two temperatures. This information will also aid in assessing potential effects of global climate change on alterations of energy budgets of free-ranging box turtles.
2) Photography as a Means of Identification of Individual Eastern Box Turtles, Terrapene carolina carolina
Donald E. Hoss1, Carolyn R. Hoss1 and Antoinette M. Gorgone2,3
1Beaufort, NC
2Southeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Beaufort Lab, Beaufort, NC
Photographic techniques to identify individuals from their natural markings have been well established for many species, including turtles. The ability to identify individuals over long periods can be used for mark-recapture techniques which can provide information on movement, distribution and population size. Our objective was to determine if the patterns on the carapace of individual Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) could be a method to identify individuals and if this method could be used over period of years. Box turtles were captured opportunistically over a 12 year period on a 3.4 ha mostly wooded site in the eastern portion of Carteret County, North Carolina. All turtles were photographed, measured and weighed. During the study period, we captured and photographed 40 turtles that ranged from 2.8 to 15.2 cm straight plastron length. Sixteen turtles were captured more than once. The longest period between capture and subsequent recapture was nine years. The smallest turtles captured (less than 7 cm in plastron length) had not developed the adult markings on the carapace. Turtles greater than 7 cm in plastron length, at time of capture, had developed the adult pattern and showed no change in shell pattern when recaptured. This method of “marking” turtles may be a valuable tool for citizen scientist projects in that it is inexpensive, easy to accomplish and is non-invasive to the turtle. We conclude that photography can be used as a non-invasive method for identifying individual eastern box turtles.
Click here for poster.
.
3) Parentage in the Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene c. carolina
Steven J.A. Kimble1, Russell L. Burke, Tim Green, and Rod N. Williams
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Multiple census studies of the eastern box turtle (Terrapene c. carolina) demonstrate that this species is experiencing steep population declines. Understanding basic biology of a declining species is an indispensible first step in reversing these trends. While much of the natural history of box turtles in known, key aspects remain poorly understood, leaving management plans incomplete. These include traits that can be best assessed at the genetic level, such as the mating system. Reproductive strategies such as multiple paternity drive up reproductive variance. High reproductive variance reduces the effective size of a population because it indicates that the actual number of parents contributing to the next generation is much reduced. Specifically, it means that every individual found in a census may not reproduce successfully in a given year, and management plans must allow for this phenomenon. High reproductive variance, therefore, can compound demographic declines, a phenomenon that must be incorporated into management plans for any such species. Multiple paternity is likely in box turtles as it has been documented in several confamilial species (e.g., Glyptemys insculpta, Emys blandingii, Emys orbicularis, Chrysemys picta) but frequency can vary greatly among closely related species and even among populations. This study will help parameterize effective population size estimates, inform captive rearing efforts, and develop hypotheses about the social mating system in box turtles.
Click here for poster.
4) Baseline Hematology and Plasma Biochemistry Values for Free-Ranging Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in Illinois and Tennessee
Terrell C. Lloyd,1,6, Matthew C. Allender2, Michael J. Dreslik3, John Byrd4, Christopher A. Phillips3, and Russell Moore5
1College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
2Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
3Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
4Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO), Clinton, TN
5Dept. of Pathobiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Il
Few studies have established sufficient hematologic and plasma biochemical analysis of free-ranging Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina). Thus, a comparative health assessment was employed to 1) establish a baseline health assessment for two populations and 2) provide a comparative health assessment between those populations. Physical examinations were performed and blood samples were collected from 426 Eastern box turtles in east central Illinois and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Individuals were sampled during three separate time periods: May (spring), late June (summer), and September (fall) of 2011 and 2012. Several comparisons were made including changes in health parameters based on age, sex, institution, and season. Reference ranges were established for packed cell volume, total solids, white blood cell and differential counts, calcium, phosphorus, aspartate aminotransferase, bile acids, creatine kinase, and uric acid. The results provide a baseline health assessment via clinical parameters for both the Tennessee and Illinois populations. These results can be used as baseline clinical parameters and serve as an indicator of population health in future studies. Protocols established for this project can be adapted and included for other box turtle biological surveys.
5) Artificial Nest Experiments on Methods to Reduce Predation on Ornate Box Turtle Nests
Andrew McCollum1,4, Neil Bernstein2, Bob Black1,3
1Department of Biology, Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA
2Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, IA
3Deceased
The ornate box turtle, Terrapene ornata, is listed as threatened in Iowa, as it is in much of the Midwest. While it is possible to identify a number of threats to the species in the state, the greatest source of mortality in the life history of this species is nest predation, closely followed by predation on hatchlings and young juveniles. While this is common in turtle life histories, is it likely that predation rates are artificially high in the modern agricultural-residential matrix of land use in which populations of omnivorous predators are subsidized by agricultural crops and human refuse. One goal of our research is to investigate practical methods to reduce nest predation. While protecting nests with cages is effective, it requires locating nests, which is labor intensive. Cages are also highly visible to humans and may increase human disturbance or poaching. We conducted three experiments using artificial nests to assess (1) the cues nest predators use to identify nests, (2) the efficacy of a hot-pepper powder (“Squirrel Away”) as a predator repellent, and (3) the efficacy of adding increasing numbers of unprofitable (empty) nests into an experimental array as a means of reducing detection and depredation of profitable (chicken egg-bearing) nests. Artificial nests were depredated at equal rates regardless of distance from an ecological edge, the presence of a marking flag or the presence of eggs in a nest; from these observations we conclude that disturbed soil is the primary cue used by nest predators to detect potential nests. Artificial nests treated with hot pepper powder were no less likely to be depredated, so we conclude that that approach seems unlikely to provide any protection to nests. Finally, increasing the number of unprofitable nests in an experimental array had no effect on the risk of predation on nests containing chicken eggs; in fact, the overall rate of nest excavation by predators was greatest in arrays with the greatest number of empty nests. This latter result may be an artifact of the fixed size of our arrays, such that increasing the number of empty nests increased nest density in the array and reduced the average distance between nests. Our presence at one site, where we had crews of 2-3 people working daily from approximately midnight until noon appears to have had a small but significant effect on predation, as that site had a lower rate of predation than the other two sites at which we set up experimental arrays but only visited briefly in daytime to monitor experiments. While we have not to date developed an effective alternative to cages for reducing nest predation, we remain optimistic that better understanding of predator behavior may yield practical solutions.
6) Helping Box Turtles by Educating the Public
Andrew Mellon
Carolina Box Turtles, Lawndale, NC
Citizen scientists, amateur herpers, and volunteer educators provide a valuable service to scientists by being able to access geographic areas and demographics that may be unavailable to the scientific community for a variety of reasons. Since 2012, I have been collecting box turtle data as a citizen scientist and amateur herper for the Davidson College's Carolina Herp Atlas. This data includes location, sex, physical characteristics, ambient temperature at the time the turtle is found, and any human activity in the vicinity. These research findings contribute not only to the Herp Atlas but to my work as a volunteer educator in informing the public about the decline of the box turtle in the Western Piedmont of North Carolina. I lecture and create educational materials for children and adults about the care and husbandry of box turtles, the dangers of the pet trade to wild box turtle populations, and easy ways to promote the conservation of box turtles in their natural habitat. In return, I often learn about new locations to collect information on these animals.
Click here for poster.

7) Road Mortality in Terrapene carolina and T. ornata: Are Females More at Risk?
Ariel Richter1,3, Eric Johansen2, Tom O'Connell1, and Stanley F. Fox2.
1Natural Resource and Ecology Department, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
2Zoology Department, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.
Many turtle species make periodic and extended overland migrations, which can result in individuals being struck and killed by motor vehicles as the turtles cross roads. While both sexes regularly migrate, females may be more susceptible to collisions because they tend to move farther than males and may seek out roadside ditches for nesting. Box turtles especially make extensive overland movements and are often found dead on roads. Human development is a major influence on turtle mortality because it reduces the amount of suitable habitat overall and the number of safe passages for migrating turtles. We predicted that areas with higher road densities and human development would have a decreased turtle population and would have higher road mortality. We predicted that both areas would have a capture and roadkill bias towards females. We surveyed two road routes in the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) in Sequoyah County, Oklahoma (19.4 total miles, forested and agricultural land), and two road routes in the Norman/Noble city areas in Cleveland County, Oklahoma (41.6 total miles, urban, suburban, and agricultural development). Each route was driven twice daily (before 0800 and after 17:00 hrs CDT) for a total of 17 days for the Norman/Noble routes during 20 May–13 August, 2011, and a total of 25 days for the SNWR routes during 16 May–13 July, 2011. Surveys included both dead and live turtles found within 2 meters of the roadway. We pooled data for both Terrapene species. Road mortality was biased toward females (M=11, F=32). We also found 9 juveniles, 1 hatchling, and 1 adult of unknown sex. We kept note of all turtle species encountered for a total of 50 individuals of 6 species (M=11, F=15, unknown sex=3, juveniles=6, and hatchlings=15). Turtle density was different and significantly higher at SNWR (mean = 0.078 turtles/mi) compared to the Norman/Noble locality (mean = 0.023 turtles/mi). We found a significantly greater proportion of the turtles at the Norman/Noble locality were found dead on the road (0.69) than at the SNWR (0.08), suggesting that the population at the more human-developed locality is strongly influenced by road mortality. Box turtles disproportionately selected areas around large bodies of water and expanses of herbaceous vegetation. We conclude that roads negatively impact box turtle populations directly by vehicular mortality and indirectly by leading towards a male bias in the population, both factors that may greatly impact recruitment rates for future generations.
Click here for poster.
8) Effect of Prescribed Fire on Overwintering Terrapene carolina
Jordan A. Smink1, Kristoffer Wild, and John H. Roe
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC
There is a keen interest in maintaining and increasing the population of the only terrestrial turtle species found in North Carolina, the Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene c. carolina. These turtles are slow to mature and have a low reproductive rate, making them especially susceptible to population decline as a direct or indirect result of human activities. Prescribed fire is a common management practice employed in much of the range of T. c. carolina in the southeastern United States. To develop effective conservation strategies it is important to understand the behavioral responses of these turtle to fire. In particular, we are studying the effects of prescribed fire on overwintering microhabitat selection in T. c. carolina in the North Carolina Sandhills. As turtles may be especially vulnerable to fire at this critical time of year when their movement responses are severely impaired, we expect them to associate with habitat features that confer some protection against fire. We located the overwintering sites of turtles using radio telemetry in the Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve, where controlled fire is used to manage the understory of the Long Leaf Pine forest, and in the Lumber River State Park, where fire is not used. Turtles at both sites reduced activity throughout October and November, and finally settled into overwintering sites by early December. Turtles at both sites moved into lowland habitats near water for overwintering. We are now in the process of collecting microhabitat environmental variables. Understanding how fire impacts the availability and distribution of suitable overwintering habitat of T. c. carolina will yield insight into the effects of fire on this non-target species, and thus help improve management for this species of conservation concern.
9) Young Citizen Scientists Tracking Box Turtles at the Lake Raleigh Area
Juliana Thomas
Exploris Middle School, Raleigh, NC, and Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education in the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh, NC
Exploris Middle School sixth graders have been collaborating with the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education since 2007 to learn more about Eastern box turtles and the habitats in which they live. Our study site is Lake Raleigh Woods and some of the surrounding wooded area not protected from development on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh, NC. Students have used radio telemetry equipment to track box turtles. With guidance from our educators they collect real data, learn about the scientific method, and receive hands-on experience with GPS, temperature guns, sling psychrometers, soil and light testers, Kestrel units, and GIS. Students develop their own study objectives, carry out all the field work, plot the data points, analyze the data, write conclusions and develop questions for continued study. Students also learn about the challenges facing urban populations of wildlife, relocated turtle complications, and discuss ways to prevent continued turtle fatalities. They have contributed to news stories, newspaper articles, given presentations at NCGIS conferences and to our state government GIS committee, and presented posters of their work with the turtles.
 Click here for poster1 and poster2.
10) Use of Automated Radio Telemetry to Detect Nesting Activity in Ornate Box Turtles, Terrapene ornata
Charles R. Tucker1,7, Thomas A. Radzio2, Jeramie T. Strickland3, Ed Britton4, David K. Delaney5 and Day B. Ligon6
1Department of Biology, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO
2Department of Biology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
3US Fish and Wildlife Service, Thomson, IL
4Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, IL
5US Army Construction and Engineering Research Laboratory, Terre Haute, IN
6Department of Biology, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO
 Researchers often employ radio telemetry to efficiently locate study animals, but the time required to locate individuals can make monitoring large populations difficult and costly. In 2010–2011, we located nesting ornate box turtles (Terrapene ornata) in a large group of radio-tagged animals. To minimize search efforts, we investigated whether automated radio telemetry and the signal change method could be used to identify nesting activity before locating animals. The signal change method relies on the principle that any movement of a radio transmitter, including minor changes in orientation, can strongly affect the intensity of the transmitter’s signal at a stationary receiving station. Using video recordings of free-ranging radio-tagged turtles, we confirmed that transmitter signal strength values can be analyzed to identify periods of box turtle activity. Early in the 2010 nesting season, automated telemetry observations indicated that some females engaged in nocturnal activity. Previous reports indicate that ornate box turtles often nest at night, but are otherwise inactive after dark. Based upon this information and relatively little indication of nocturnal activity by males, we hypothesized that nocturnal activity corresponded to nesting. We subsequently monitored female nighttime activity in near real time, hand-tracked 4 night-active individuals, and found 3 of these turtles nesting. In 2011, we again selectively hand-tracked night-active females and located nests for 12 of 18 study animals, which approximates the expected annual reproductive rate for our population. We demonstrate that the signal change method can be used to identify nesting activity in ornate box turtles and suggest this method may be of use in other species that nest outside of their normal activity periods.
Click here for poster.
11) Patterns of Morphological Variation in the Shell of the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
Natasha S. Vitek
Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
An accurate understanding of subspecific structure and variation within the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) can inform conservation efforts, highlighting unique populations or regions that may deserve particular focus. Terrapene carolina was traditionally divided into four extant and one extinct subspecies. The high level of intraspecific variation within the species was assumed to be a reflection of subspecific diversity. However, research based on genetic data has recovered conflicting relationships between some subspecies and no support for others. In addition, researchers studying the largest subspecies have questioned whether supposedly diagnostic features for those groups may simply be features of large-bodied box turtles in general. In order to investigate potential morphological support for the traditionally recognized subspecies, I used geometric morphometrics with two datasets to investigate to what extent size and subspecific identity can explain variation in shell shape. One dataset contained 136 specimens ranging from hatchlings to adults. A second dataset consisted of 200 adult specimens equally distributed across the four extant subspecies recognized in the United States. Specimens in both datasets were compared qualitatively and quantitatively through multiple analyses. Regardless of whether the dataset included or excluded juveniles, size explained a significant component of shape variation. In both datasets, larger turtles were more elongated anteroposteriorly, more bell-shaped dorsoventrally, and had more distinctive marginals in comparison to smaller turtles. The extent to which subspecific identity explained patterns of shape variation was more difficult to assess. Statistical comparisons of mean shape resulted in significant differences between all four nominative subspecies. I found minor differences in a qualitative comparison of average shell shape for each subspecies. In contrast, I found that all of the shell shape of each subspecies was not distinct in morphospace in canonical variates analyses. Additionally, multiple assignments tests based on shell shape could not reliably assign specimens to subspecies. It is possible that those differences between the shell shape of the four nominative subspecies of T. carolina may be significant statistically, but not significant biologically. The results of this study should not be interpreted as an argument against existing subspecific taxonomy of T. carolina. Rather, the results highlight the need for a better understanding of what explains variation, both genetic and phenotypic, within the species and how best to conserve the resulting diversity.
Click here for poster.
12) Likelihood of Turtle Mortality During Attempted Road Crossing
Nathaniel S. Weaver1 and Robert Baldwin
Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Box turtles and other species of turtle crossing the road are a common sight in the southeastern United States, especially during breeding season (May-June) (Cureton and Deaton 2012). This puts the animals in direct danger from motor vehicle strikes. Understanding the reasons for these strikes and where collisions are most common could prove useful in developing appropriate strategies to reduce loss. I hypothesize that more turtles are hit during low light periods (early morning and evening) by accident, and that deliberate impact is higher in the daytime when turtles are more visible. I also hypothesize that impact is more likely in urban areas due to the higher number of cars, but the ratio of the number of impacts to the number of cars passing is lower for the urban areas. This could occur because fewer people will hit turtles on purpose on urban roads, possibly for fear of being seen. This could also occur because drivers are more likely to see a car ahead of them dodging something in the road and prepare to dodge it themselves on urban roads.
In a pilot study, a rubber toy turtle approximating the size and shape of a real box turtle was placed in the road in an urban setting. In the first hour, 7 out of 267 passing vehicles (2.6 %) swerved and hit the artificial turtle. In subsequent trials, the decoy was struck 2.7% in urban areas (n= 713) and 7.2% in rural areas (n= 153).
These findings can be part of a greater conservation strategy for turtles crossing roads in the southeastern United States. They can identify the most dangerous time of day and location (urban vs. rural) for a turtle crossing the road. They can also determine whether vehicle-caused turtle mortality in this area is high enough to be of concern to long-term population survival. This information can be distributed to the public, especially in areas known to have high turtle density.
I am using Twitter and Facebook to collect turtle sightings on roads in Pickens County, SC where Clemson is located. I collect GPS coordinates or a description of the location. I will compile this information into GIS and determine turtle crossing hotspots in Pickens County. This will help determine where to focus management efforts.
Cureton, J. C. and Deaton, D. R. 2012. Hot Moments and Hot Spots: Identifying Factors Explaining Temporal and Spatial Variation in Turtle Road Mortality. Journal of Wildlife Management 76: 1047-1052.
Click here for poster.
13) Risk and Response of Box Turtles to Prescribed Fire
Kristoffer Wild1, and John H. Roe
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC
Prescribed fire is a common management technique used to maintain the characteristics indicative to longleaf pine communities, but the effects on non-target species are not well understood. The Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapenecarolina,is commonly found in longleaf systems, but its limited mobility and terrestrial tendencies put it at heightened risk of exposure to fire. Understanding the response of this non-target species to prescribed fire can assist park mangers in planning more effective management activities. Using radiotelemetry, we are examining the behavioral response of T.carolinafire management at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, where prescribed fire has been used for decades, as well as at the Lumber River State Park, where fire is not used. Turtles at both study sites have selected areas that are in close proximity to watercourses, with several individuals spending extended periods in water. Turtles are primarily associating with non-burned areas of the park, including bottomland and upland mixed hardwood forests, though several areas of intensive activity occur in the longleaf burn units. We suggest that turtles are selecting habitats that confer some protection against fire, though they regularly make forays into burn management units and are then at risk of injury or death from fire. Indeed, one turtle has been burned and sustained injuries that we suspect contributed to its later death. Though still preliminary, our study highlights areas and habitats of intense turtle use that can help park managers assess the risks of prescribed fire to T. carolina, and ultimately lead to more effective management of this species of management concern.
Click here for poster.

A round-up of Yesterday's News Today



A round-up of the news on http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.co.uk -



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