Graduation Year

2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Biology (Integrative Biology)

Major Professor

Sean Doody, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Whitmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Melanie Riedinger-Whitmore, Ph.D.

Keywords

biodiversity, conservation, management, protection

Abstract

Turtles are one the most threatened vertebrate groups in the world due to anthropogenic threats such as habitat loss and overexploitation. In addition to occupying a range that has been vulnerable to major habitat loss, the Florida box turtle (Terrapene bauri) is particularly at risk of overexploitation due to its popularity in the pet trade. Sanibel Island is a barrier island in southwest Florida that has experienced major habitat loss and is the site of a recent poaching event. In response to these threats, studies of both the population demography and spatial ecology were conducted on Sanibel’s Florida box turtle population, with the goal of informing management for the conservation of the population. Mark-recapture methods were used to estimate population size, sex ratios, growth rates and age and size distributions, while radio-telemetry was used to determine home range size, movement patterns, and habitat use and how they vary between sex and seasons. Total population size was estimated to be 3015 turtles for the island with an adult sex ratio of 1.2:1 male: female. Turtle body size was noticeably larger than that for other Florida barrier island box turtle populations. Turtles were also larger in the central and west end of the island when compared to the more developed east end. Mean home range size in the present study was larger than those reported for other populations of box turtles. Home range sizes did not differ significantly between the sexes and seasons though there was a difference in habitat utilization between males and females across the seasons. These data provide valuable information for developing a conservation management plan by providing a baseline for future monitoring. They also provide life history and other ecological data for comparison to box turtle studies in other habitats and in other parts of their range.

Included in

Biology Commons

COinS