Use and Seasonal Activity Patterns of the Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri) in the Florida Keys and Implications for Conservation and ManagementEPA Grant Number: U916084
Title: Use and Seasonal Activity Patterns of the Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri) in the Florida Keys and Implications for Conservation and Management
Investigators: Verdon, Emilie C.
Institution: Florida International University
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2002 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $53,849
RFA: Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study (2002) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Natural and Life Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences
The objective of this research project is to determine population structure, habitat requirements, activity patterns, and fire ecology of the Florida box turtle, Terrapene carolina bauri, in the subtropical Florida Keys at the southernmost limit of its range.
Studies have been conducted in the northern parts of its range, but not in southern Florida. This turtle’s primary habitat in the lower Keys is the pine rocklands, a globally endangered and fire-dependent ecosystem. The strong rainfall-driven seasonality in this area resembles that of the tropics, and therefore offers a unique opportunity to expand our knowledge of this wide-ranging species. My research project will contribute to our knowledge of this species because it focuses on a subtropical population. I expect that the population in the Florida Keys will have activity patterns that resemble those of the tropical Mexican box turtles (Terrapene carolina mexicana and Terrapene carolina yucatana) rather than T. c. bauri in central and northern Florida. These two important components of box turtle ecology, habitat and season, have not been studied thoroughly in this species in the southern part of its range. Three methods (mark recapture, thread trailing, and radio telemetry) will be used to better estimate habitat use and activity patterns. Once this information is gathered, management and conservation plans can be made for this species and the environment. With box turtle populations declining and crucial habitat being destroyed, it is imperative to ascertain the status and habitat requirements of this species in southern Florida.