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Boxborough, MA, United States

Buhlmann K.A.,Savannah River Ecology Laboratory | Koch S.L.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Butler B.O.,Oxbow Associates Inc | Tuberville T.D.,Savannah River Ecology Laboratory | And 3 more authors.
Herpetological Conservation and Biology | Year: 2015

We reintroduced Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) to Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts, USA, evaluating the relative benefits and risks of using various life stages of Blanding’s Turtles collected from a donor population within the same watershed, including direct-release hatchlings (released in autumn shortly after hatching), head-started hatchlings (raised in captivity for 9 mo), juveniles, and adults. We developed a simple population model to evaluate which of several release strategies was most likely to result in a stable population at the recipient site while minimizing negative impacts to the donor site. Model results suggested that annual releases consisting largely of head-started hatchlings were most likely to achieve our goal. We released 81 direct-release and 161 head-started hatchlings at the refuge in 2007-2011. Head-started hatchlings were larger (mean = 62.7 mm carapace length, 46.6 g) compared to direct-release hatchlings (mean = 36.3 mm carapace length, 8.8 g). Simultaneous radio-tracking of 12 translocated sub-adults has provided useful information on habitat preferences that we used to select two sites within the refuge for future releases. We also released six head-started hatchlings with radio transmitters (one in 2009 and five in 2010): one was found dead a year after release. We plan to continue monitoring efforts to assess survivorship, growth, and site fidelity of all released Blanding’s Turtles and to compare results among the head-started and direct-release hatchlings. We will update our models and reintroduction efforts based on monitoring data. © 2015. Kurt Buhlmann. All Rights Reserved.

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