The ecology and influence of land use on river turtles in southwest Georgia
Sterrett, Sean Christopher
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Human activities such as agriculture are a major factor influencing the current distribution and abundances of species. I used two survey methods, hoop trapping and snorkeling, to obtain estimates of detectability for riverine turtles, and to measure the relationship between percent forest cover within a 287-m buffer and turtle abundance, species richness, and evenness along two streams in southwest Georgia. Further, I used radio-telemetry to study habitat use by Barbour’s map turtle (Graptemys barbouri), which is a species of conservation concern. Turtle evenness increased with increasing forest cover; however, turtle abundance declined with increasing forest cover as a result of an increased abundance of a generalist species, the yellow-bellied slider. Barbour’s map turtle abundance increased with forest cover. Barbour’s map turtle used deep pools with large woody debris, suggesting that removing riparian forest cover may reduce debris inputs important to the Barbour’s map turtle and other aquatic species.