An empirical test of the role of learning in translocation

  • Published source details Krochmal A.R., Roth T.C. & O'Malley H. (2018) An empirical test of the role of learning in translocation. Animal Conservation, 21, 36-44.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Translocate adult or juvenile reptiles: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Translocate adult or juvenile reptiles: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

    A controlled study (year not stated) in a woodland-wetland complex in Maryland, USA (Krochmal et al. 2018) found that translocated Eastern painted turtles Chrysemys picta had higher mortality than resident tortoises and did not navigate successfully from dry ephemeral ponds to alternative water sources, regardless of season of release. Mortality rates were higher in translocated turtles (early-season release: 10 of 20 turtles; late-season release: 2 of 30 turtles) compared to resident turtles (0 of 60 turtles). After ephemeral ponds dried, no translocated turtles successfully navigated to alternative water sources (within 21 days), although all resident turtles did (within 33 h). Translocated turtles deviated more widely from established turtle navigation routes regardless of release season (early-season release 74 m from route; late-season release: 86 m) compared to resident turtles (1 m). Translocated turtles spent more time stopped, moved slower, took longer to move after stopping and lost more body mass than resident turtles regardless of release season (see original paper for details). The translocation destination habitat included temporary ponds (3 ha each) which dry up within a day each summer. Early-season released turtles (20 individuals) moved 3 months (in April) before draining took place to allow time to learn to navigate the destination habitat before draining occurred, late-season released turtles (30 individuals) moved approximately 96 h before ponds drained (in July) and resident turtles (60 individuals) were monitored by radio telemetry every 15 minutes for 12 h/day, 7 days/week for at least 21 days (see paper for details).

    (Summarised by: Katie Sainsbury)

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