Andrea Currylow (MS)
Dept. of Forestry and Natural Resources
715 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2061
Eastern Box Turtle Behavioral Response to Multiple Timber Harvesting Regimes in Indiana. Research indicates that declines in box turtles populations are occurring across the country. Timber harvesting is a major land use activity throughout the Midwest, possibly contributing to box turtle declines. My research is designed to evaluate the impacts of different timber harvesting regimes by assessing behavior of box turtles. Changes in home ranges and habitat selection relative to even- and uneven-aged timber harvests are being assessed. Two years (2007-08) of pre-harvest data have been collected using radiotelemetry and vegetation sampling on the research sites. The sites were harvested during winter through spring 2008-09 and since then my team and I have continued to monitor the movements of the study animals. Along with these data, I have added iButton temperature loggers to the project. Temperature loggers are attached to the carapace of each study animal (n=41) and throughout the research areas (n=36). With vegetation and canopy cover data collected weekly, radiotelemetetric location collected three times a week, and temperature data collected every 45 minutes during the active period, I hope to paint a clear picture of the responses of these turtles to the changes in their habitat.
An iridovirus study within the habitat of the declining box turtle: is there a correlation? The family of iridoviruses (Iridoviridae) comprises large, multi-host DNA viruses. The genus Ranavirus is a type of iridovirus that commonly infects larval amphibians but has recently been detected in Testudines with swift and deadly consequences. I sampled larval amphibians from the ephemeral ponds within my timber harvest study sites, as well as opportunistically sampling apparently unhealthy box turtles. I used these samples to detect Ranavirus DNA within the vicinity of the study sites using agarose gel electrophoresis and PCR. The presence the devastating Ranavirus within the habitat of eastern box turtles could shed some light on their declines.
Detection of thermoregulatory shifts associated with timber harvests. Timber harvests may not degrade box turtle habitat, per-se. In fact, small cuts may open up areas to basking, nesting, or foraging. These areas may be preferred over uniformly forested areas at biologically distinct and significant times. For example, harvest openings where irradiation of the sun is high, may be selected for during emergence when ambient temperatures are low. In contrast, these harvest areas may be avoided in the extreme heat of the summer or cold of the winter when turtles may take refuge in the buffered temperatures offered by the closed canopy and thick leaf litter of the forest. The temperatures available to this ectotherm will dictate its activity and may play a key role in habitat selection. I am currently monitoring the carapacial temperature of each of our 41 radio-tagged turtles along with the surface temperatures of 36 sites throughout their habitat (18 in harvests, 18 in forests). During the winter 2009-10 the soil temperatures throughout the habitat was monitored at differing depths. The results of these thermal profiles along with the carapacial temperatures will give us a good idea of the preferred temperature of eastern box turtle overwintering sites, at what depth this temperature can be found, and if this temperature is available at a normal depth within harvest areas. These data coupled with estimates of habitat use on a temporal scale will help elucidate habitat selection in anthropogenically altered habitat.
Seasonal Changes in Sex Markers. Using blood samples collected over the final two years of the study, we are conducting an analysis of total Testosterone (Radioimmunoassay) and Vitellogenin protien (Coomassie Plus Bradford Assay, SDS-PAGE) through the course of the active periods. This type of analysis of monitoring physiological parameters that effect behavior has never been done in this species and may lead to new explanations of behavior not attributed to disturbance.
Adult Survival Estimate. I used the first two complete years of radiotelemtric data to present an assessment of annual survival for adult eastern box turtles. Using a known fates Kaplan-Meier estimator, the baseline annual survival estimate for adult eastern box turtles in Indiana’s south-central region is 96.2%. Annual survival rates varied slightly between the hibernal period (95.6%) and the active period (96.7%). These initial data provide wildlife managers with a baseline from which a recovery period can be calculated. In areas where road mortality and human interface are high, this estimate should be adjusted to ensure the time for recovery is adequate. I recommend further research over generations and age-classes to better inform management of this protected species.
- August 2010, 8th Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles, Orlando, FL. Oral Presentation: Behaviorale Effects of Timber Harvests on a Declining, Long-lived Turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina
- July 2010. Annual Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Providence, RI. Oral Presentation: Behavioral Effects of Timber Harvests on Terrapene carolina carolina.
- March 2010. Lilly Nature Center, at the Celery Bog Nature Area in West Lafayette, IN. “Wednesdays in the Wild” Public Outreach Series: Box Turtle Natural History and Status.
- December 2009. 70th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Springfield, IL. Oral Presentation: Behavioral Effects of Anthropogenically Altered Habitat on a Declining, long-lived Vertebrate.
- October 2009. Annual Indiana Academy of Science Meeting, Indiana University, Kokomo, IN. Oral Presentation: Behavioral effects of Anthropogenically altered habitat on a declining, long-lived vertebrate.
- August 2009. Brown County State Park Nature Center, Nashville, IN. Public Outreach Oral Presentation & Activity: Turtles and Turtle Tracking.
- August 2009. 7th Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles, St. Louis, MO. Poster Presentation: Movements and Home Range of Eastern Box Turtles in a Forested Habitat and Future Impacts of Timber Harvests.
- May 2009. Brown County State Park Nature Center, Nashville, IN. Public Outreach Display & Activity: Movements and Home Range of Eastern Box Turtles in a Forested Habitat and Future Impacts of Timber Harvests.
- April 2009. Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, NE. Poster Presentation: Movements and Home Range of Eastern Box Turtles in a Forested Habitat and Future Impacts of Timber Harvests.
- April 2009. FNR Research Symposium, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Poster Presentation: Movements and Home Range of Eastern Box Turtles in a Forested Habitat and Future Impacts of Timber Harvests.
- McInnes, T. L., A. F. Currylow, C. W. Painter, J. N. Stuart. Geographic Distribution: Lithobates catesbeianus. Herpetological Review, 39(4), 2008.
- Currylow, A. F., P. A. Zollner, B. J. MacGowan, and R. N. Williams. A survival estimate of Midwestern adult Eastern Box Turtles using radiotelemetry. American Midland Naturalist, (in press).
- Cook, D. G. and A. F. Currylow. Seasonal spatial patterns of the California Red-legged Frog and invasive American Bullfrog, implications for predation risk. Journal of Herpetology, (submitted).
- Currylow A. F. and R. N. Williams. Thermal ecology of Terrapene carolina carolina during the hibernal period with implications for conservation. (in prep).
- Currylow, A. F., A. J. Johnson, and R. N. Williams. Survey for Iridovirus infection in larval amphibians and associated protected population of Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) (in prep).
- Tift, M. S., A. F. Currylow, J. Meyer, R. N. Williams, and D. Crocker. Seasonal changes in Eastern Box Turtle sex markers. (in prep).
- Currylow, A. F., B. J. MacGowan, and R. N. Williams. Behavioral Effects of Timber Harvests on Eastern Box Turtles. (in prep).