2014 S3: Kirk Luca, MS3
Growth and movement patterns of neonatal box turtles following egress
Eastern box turtles Terrapene carolina carolina (EBT) are uncommon in the Great Lakes region and are protected in Michigan as a species of special concern. Like many reptiles, little is known about hatchlings EBTs, particularly growth and activity of neonates following egress. Neonatal growth was monitored in EBTs in Manistee National Forest via radio telemetry. During the neonates first overwintering they lost approximately 10% of their body weight. Each neonate had overwintering refugia of varying depths; these depths did not correlate with how much mass was lost. The mean weight gain for turtles alive four weeks after egress was 7.9936 g with a 0.142 standard error. The absence of a significant weight gain may be the result of adverse weather conditions during the study. This may have led to a lack of readily available food and difficulty in foraging. It is critical to understand those factors that affect growth rates and promote longevity in EBTs to ensure they reach maturity.
Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Moore, Biology