The ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata) is a terrestrial turtle that inhabits primarily grassland and sand prairie habitats in the Midwestern United States. Redder et al. (2006) reported that individuals of this species appear to nest preferentially in open areas. Previous research on birds has indicated that the nest predation rate is higher along habitat edges, such as the border between woodland and field. The goal of this study was to determine whether a similar “ edge effect” can be observed with regard to ornate box turtle nests. Research was conducted at the Hawkeye Wildlife Area in Johnson County, Iowa. Beginning in late May and continuing through June, female box turtles typically concentrate their nesting to an open sand dune area surrounded by a wetland, shrubs, agricultural fields and forests. The location and condition of each nest was recorded during daily searches of the dune area. Of the 35 nests in our sample, 32 were located less than 50 meters from cover. 10 (29%) of the nests located near cover were destroyed by predators. Three nests were found at distances greater than 50 meters, two (67%) of which were depredated. Although our sample size for nests away from cover is small, our data suggest that depredation rates on nests near-cover are less than those located far from cover.
Charissa Kaspar, ’08 Buffalo, NY
Majors: Biology, English
Sponsor: Robert Black