Winter 2013-2014 Hibernation
2013 Hibernation Sites Many turtles hibernated close to last years sites, several within a few yards, but several turtle hibernation sites were located distant from previous years sites (M13 ad M21). Turtle M20 (near the top of the photo) may be a transient.
The 2014 winter was "far below normal" with longer periods of single digit and very low teen temperatures than in local memory. (This was predicted before winter began, even by the Farmer's Almanac.) The northeast got hit with several near record snow and snow/ice storms but the area where this site is located received relatively little snow and ice (7 snow storms total) and experienced only short periods when the ground was blanketed with snow cover, until mid-February when 14-16" of snow was dropped in one snowstorm.
Turtle M19's hibernation temperature chart above is representative of most other's for the winter of 2013-2014. Temperature data loggers (iButton Thermochrons) attached to the turtle's carapace recorded the temperatures that the turtle was experiencing and recorded this information every 4 hours for the duration of the hibernation period.
Turtle M19 hibernated approximately 6 inches from the surface in a well sheltered location in the woods which received little sunlight and little snow cover. This site, like most others in this study area, had a covering of wet leaves covered by dry leaf cover.
Turtle M15's hibernation site was not far from that of turtle M19, in a moderately well sheltered wooded area under rhodenderon and pines. This turtle experienced periods of much lower temperatures than others this winter, including long periods of sub-freezing soil temperatures.
M19 emerged undamaged, in good condition, on time, and after staying close to his hibernation site for 3 days, commenced his normal travel activites, over the high ridge and into the drainage to the north.
M9 site is a sheltered site on a gentle north facing slope. It is located approximately 45 feet from the road edge, under mostly deciduious overstory (leaf-off), covered with young dog-hair pine saplings. Consequently, the soil is very moist and cool.
Air temperatures were recorded at 20 inches, with shaded probe at the site. Surface temperatures were taken under dead, dry leaves located in full sun at the site.
Site temperatures were recorded at 5 feet in the shade by data logger iButton temperatures were recorded by logger epoxied to turtle 's marginal scutes.
The M11 site is totally exposed, nearly level, site in a ditch located only about 15 feet from the road edge. Except for 5 or 6 days of the winter, the site did not have snow cover, and was totally exposed to direct sunlight, wind and ambient temps. The soil remained very moist (but well drained) all winter
Pre-emergence Soil Temperatures
Eastern Box Turtle
Terrapene carolina carolina
A Relict Population Doomed To Extinction?