Thursday, March 05, 2009

Spotted Turtles Are Out!

The Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) are back at #1 along the 1.75-mile boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest! During the past several years, this area has been dry and the turtles relocated to the edge of the swamp near the first fork in the boardwalk. Prior to the dry years, the Spotted Turtles were always spotted just beyond the nature center at #1. In fact, during her years of Spotted Turtle research at Beidler Forest, Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus never captured or radio tracked any turtles from the #1 area or the sunny opening under the nearby powerline.




















Looking at the first two images, we can determine that the turtle was part of Dr. Litzgus' study. The two holes in the lower right rear of the carapace were drilled to hold the radio transmitter. The drilled holes along with the identifying notch cut in the lower left rear of the carapace do not cause any harm to the turtle. By tracking the turtles, Dr. Litzgus learned that the human changes to the environment (powerline) and the natural changes to the environment (Hurricane Hugo) actually benefited the Spotted Turtle at Beidler Forest. The powerline clearing offered ample sun, not found under the canopy in the swamp, for basking and the hurricane-felled trees provided pools of water where the roots pulled out and nesting sites as the trunks rotted. Unfortunately, habitat loss and collection for the pet trade remain serious threats to Spotted Turtle populations.





Turtles are aggregating now to mate, so it should be fairly easy to catch a glimpse of this species. They currently have one-track minds.



Images by Mark Musselman

2 comments:

VNiclos said...

Hello, I'm Vicente from testudines.org in Spain, Wanderful pictures.
Please, could you give to us publicsh your pictures in testudines.org in a of Spotted Turtle sheet.

The page are in http://www.testudines.org/Articulos/Ficha-de-Especie/Clemmys-guttata-SCHNEIDER,-1792.aspx

Of course we put in picture your credential.

Best regards

Swampy said...

Of course. Contact Mark Musselman at http://sc.audubon.org/AboutUs_ContactUs_Staff.html