Impact of natural resource extraction on thermal properties of wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) habitat.

Affiliation

Department of Biology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, P3C 2C6, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

One of the main threats to freshwater turtle populations is habitat destruction, which occurs as a result of human activities such as infrastructure development, forestry, aggregate extraction, and agriculture. However, the impacts of these activities on thermoregulatory opportunities for turtles are not well understood. We examined the impacts of forestry and aggregate extraction on thermal characteristics of wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) habitat in the Sudbury District, Ontario, by measuring the differences in absolute temperature, thermal landscape structure, and habitat thermal quality among relatively undisturbed sites (N = 2), harvested forestry sites (N = 2), and aggregate pits (N = 2) in 2015. We also tested the potential use of the thermal landscape concept as a predictor of habitat thermal quality. Undisturbed habitats were of higher thermal quality than impacted sites in terms of temperatures experienced in situ by wild wood turtles in their natural home ranges, and never reached temperatures that would be injurious to turtles (i.e., below CTMIN or above CTMAX). The undisturbed sites were of lower quality in terms of optimal temperatures (i.e., Tset), and were generally cooler and their temperatures less variable than those in impacted habitats. The thermal landscape concept provided a useful predictor of habitat thermal quality when the influence of time of day was factored into the predictive model. Our data are important to the conservation and management of wood turtles because they provide a preliminary quantification of the thermal impacts of natural resource extraction on the habitat of an endangered species, and can guide the development of mitigation and rehabilitation plans by providing measures of, and targets for, thermal habitat quality.

Keywords

Aggregates,Forestry,Habitat,Species at risk,T(set),Temperature,Thermal landscape,

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