physical condition, population densities, and age and sex distributions.
ectoparasite loads between species, ponds, and turtles of varying sizes.
Figure 2. Painted
Turtle size distribution in farm and golf course ponds. No juveniles were captured in farm ponds.
Sexual size dimorphism
seems to be more pronounced in golf course ponds.
The Ecology of Semi-aquatic Turtles in Farm and Golf Course Ponds
Failey, Clint McCoy, Steven J. Price and Michael E. Dorcas
Biology, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28035
courses alter landscapes through habitat fragmentation and increased levels of human disturbance, yet they
often create ponds
and incorporate existing waterways which could provide habitat for wetland dependent species, such as
The main objective of our study was to determine if golf course ponds provide suitable habitat for
semi-aquatic turtles and
species composition and abundances onfarm and on golf
Painted Turtle size distribution for ponds on farms and golf courses.
•Determine if parasite loads and injuries
differed between pond types.
We thank Mallard Head Country Club (Sam Linker), North
Stone Country Club (Darrin Spierings), and River Run Country Club (Bo Miller) for providing access to golf
course ponds, Dennis Testerman and Cabarrus County Soil and Water Conservation for helping get permission to
sample the ponds on sites of future development, and Hunter Swick for help with sampling. Funding provided
by the Davidson College Biology Department, Duke Power, and by National Science Foundation Grants
(REU-0139153 and DEB-0347326) to MED.
1)Selected 5 golf course and 5 farm ponds in Mecklenburg, Iredell and Cabarrus Counties, NC.
2) Placed 10 traps baited with sardines in each pond and checked the traps 4 times a week for 20 days.
Counted the number of leeches upon
capture for each turtle and recorded
All turtles were given a unique 3 letter code for identification.
3) Returned all turtles to the lab for weighing, measuring and marking.
Figure 3. Percentage of turtles (all species combined) parasitized in farm and golf course ponds by leeches. Error bars represent one SE.
Golf Course Ponds
Figure 1. Percentage of total
turtles captured in farm and golf course ponds. Golf course and farm ponds are similar in
species composition (Bray
Curtis – 0.04). Painted Turtles were the most common species captured in both pond types, however they made up a
higher percent of total
captures in farm ponds. Yellowbelly Sliders and Mud Turtles appear to be more common in golf course ponds.
Figure 4. Percentage of turtles with serious shell damage or missing limbs
SUMMARY & CONCLUSIONS
course and farm ponds are not appreciably different in terms of species composition.
females in the presence of caught juveniles may suggest that golf courses provide suitable habitat
for Painted Turtles.
percentage of turtles from golf course ponds had serious shell damage or missing limbs, however the
number of leeches
found on turtles did not appear to differ between golf course ponds and farm ponds.
differences in species composition, total number of turtles, and ectoparasite loads may depend more on
the type and
proximity of surrounding habitat suitable to individual species.