Habitat Use and Basking Behavior of a Freshwater Turtle Community Along an Urban Gradient

December 2013
Chelonian Conservation & Biology;Dec2013, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p275
Academic Journal
Urbanization of riparian corridors may alter or eliminate suitable freshwater turtle basking habitat due to fragmentation of shoreline vegetation, reduction of basking sites, or frequent human disturbance. We used 3 indices of shoreline urbanization at 2 spatial scales to assess the relationship between shoreline urbanization and basking turtle behavior. Indices included local-scale Shoreline Modification and Disturbance Frequency and broad-scale Building Density. The community of basking turtles included the Texas river cooter, Pseudemys texana (Baur); red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans (Wied); Mississippi map turtle, Graptemys pseudogeographica kohnii (Baur); midland smooth softshell, Apalone mutica mutica (LeSueur); pallid spiny softshell, Apalone spinifera pallida (Webb); and a turtle from the family Kinosternidae that could not be identified to species during basking surveys. At the local scale, abundances of basking turtles were greatest in areas of high Shoreline Modification, characterized by a substantial reduction in woody shoreline vegetation. Disturbance Frequency of human intrusion limited turtle basking in areas with daily disturbance. At the broad scale, most turtles basked adjacent to shorelines with nearby buildings. All species of the turtle community basked in urban environments, but their tolerance of urbanization varied.


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