Nesting Behavior of the Striped Mud Turtle, Kinosternon baurii (Testudines: Kinosternidae)

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Turtles, Nesting sites, Animal nesting, Fences, Wetlands, Rain, Highlands, Predators, Eggs, Embryos

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The nesting ecology of Kinosternon baurii was studied on a sandhill in central Florida from September 1991 through February 1995. Gravid females were marked and tracked to their nest sites using thread bobbins attached to the carapace. Peak nesting season was September through November with a second minor peak in June. Females laid 1-3 clutches per year. When left unprotected from predators, egg pre dation was 100%; however, when nests were protected from predators, 88% of the nests had full or partial embryo survival to hatching. Nesting females moved an average of 137 m from the wetland to their nest sites and showed fidelity to a particular nesting area among years. Movements to and from nest sites coincided with rainfall. As documented for other kinosternid species, females of K baurii prolonged their stays on the sandhill after nesting by burying underground near their nest sites. Deterrence of egg predators from the nest site as a result of the female's presence has been suggested as a possible explanation for why females do not return to the wetland immediately after nest completion; however, physiological limitations caused by energy expenditure and/or evaporative water loss also may aid in explaining this behavior.

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Copeia, v. 1999, issue 4, p. 958-968