Natural history of Terrapene carolina (Box Turtles) in an urbanized landscape

Sarah A. Budischak, Joy M. Hester, Steven J. Price, Michael E. Dorcas

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43 Citations (SciVal)


Urbanization and other anthropogenic factors are often implicated in turtle population declines, yet limited research on the natural history of turtles in urban areas has been conducted. To assess the effects of urbanization and to help develop proper conservation strategies for Terrapene c. carolina (Eastern Box Turtles), we conducted a mark-recapture study in the vicinity of Davidson, NC, from 1999 to 2004. We made 354 turtle captures, 42 of which were recapture events. We evaluated meristic characters, body condition, activity patterns, population structure, and growth rates, and then examined relationships among these variables and the amount of anthropogenically-modified habitat within 100 m of each turtle's collection location. Males and females had different patterns of seasonal activity and body condition indices. Growth rates decreased with turtle age and varied between developed and forested habitats. More turtles over the age of 20 were found in areas with extensive forest cover than in areas that were developed. Although box turtles may persist in urbanized landscapes and may grow more quickly there, they suffer higher mortality in these habitats compared to forested landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages14
JournalSoutheastern Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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