Spatial Use of Managed and Unmanaged Wetlands by Freshwater Turtles in Cooper Wildlife Management Area

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Date of Award

Spring 2022


Freshwater ecosystems including riverine habitats are altered and species that evolved in these systems are impacted. We undertook a post-construction review of freshwater turtles in the area around Jim Chapman Lake. Just over 30 years ago the habitat was riverine and now with the construction of the reservoir the dynamics have changed. Aquatic hoop-nets were located in emergent and scrub-shrub marsh, bottom-land swamp, and riverine habitat to survey the species and their habitat use. Eleven species were listed with ranges within the area on the 1976 preconstruction environmental report. Six of those freshwater turtles were documented in this report. Apalone spinifera, Chelydra serpentina, Kinosternon subrubrum, Sternotherus odoratus, Trachemys scripta, and Graptemys sp. were captured/documented within the study site. The first five species were within or near constructed moist-cell units demonstrating the use of managed mitigation lands. The population of T. scripta had an overall male sexual bias (2.27:1) with a significant bias (p = 0.014) in riverine habitat (4.8:1). The mid-line carapace length for T. scripta was significantly larger for the riverine population than the emergent marsh (MCU) for both males (p = 0.01) and females (p = 0.05). More changes are expected for the Sulphur River and river basins around the world. This data can be compiled with data from other civilian projects to help guide conservation strategies consequently improving habitat and maintaining biodiversity for wetland species.


Johanna Delgado-Acevedo

Subject Categories

Biology | Life Sciences