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Title:Conservation and recovery of the Yellow Mud Turtle (Kinosternon flavescens) in Mason and Tazewell counties, Illinois
Author(s):Berger, Andrew J.
Advisor(s):Phillips, Christopher A.
Department / Program:School of Integrative Biology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Yellow Mud Turtle
Kinosternon flavescens
Kinosternon flavescens spooneri
Abstract:The Yellow Mud Turtle, Kinosternon flavescens, is listed as state endangered in Illinois and has suffered severe declines throughout its Midwest range. Trapping surveys were performed to document the presence and distribution of K. flavescens inhabiting Mason and Tazewell counties, Illinois. Previous trapping in the study area from 1992-2001 resulted in a catch per unit effort of 0.1013 compared to recent studies conducted from 2007-2009, that resulted in a catch per unit effort of 0.0120. The results of recent trapping suggest a decline in numbers of K. flavescens in the study area despite protection of suitable habitat. The study area lies in the central Illinois range of K. flavescens, where much of the landscape has been modified for agricultural use, leaving very little terrestrial habitat suitable for aestivation, nesting and overwintering. Because K. flavescens is a philopatric species it is important to focus initial habitat conservation on areas known to be used by K. flavescens. Based on radio-telemetry observations of 25 K. flavescens, 40 terrestrial locations were identified as being suitable for aestivation, nesting and overwintering. These 40 locations occurred on grassland (38) or savannah (2) habitats and 37 of 40 locations occurred on the Plainfield Sand Soil Series. Although conservation of habitat alone is not sufficient to recover K. flavescens in Mason and Tazewell counties, the identification and characterization of terrestrial habitats used by turtles is necessary for other recovery efforts to succeed. Because of the low numbers of individuals captured from small wetlands in a fragmented landscape, there are concerns that K. flavescens populations in the study area are vulnerable to problems associated with low genetic diversity and demographic stochasticity. Graph theory was used to model connectivity among wetlands in the study area. Two groups of wetlands, including all but one wetland where K. flavescens had been captured from 2007-2009, were identified as being connected by edge distances of 650 m or less. Understanding connectivity among wetlands in the study area will assist managers in focusing conservation efforts at the landscape scale and not on individual wetlands. Increasing connectivity among wetlands in the study area will help to increase genetic diversity and demographic stability of K. flavescens in the study area.
Issue Date:2011-01-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Andrew J. Berger
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-14
Date Deposited:December 2

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