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2021 Summer Season
High Elevation Study
Eastern Box Turtle
                Terrapene carolina carolina
A Relict Population Doomed To Extinction?
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Page 66
Summer 2021 was the hottest summer season on record.  Tracking activities for June, July, and August were reduced due to the months' numerous back to back heat wave temperatures and repressive humidity.   July 2021 was the hottest July on record.   Consequently, some of the tracking this season was done using thread trailing and hundreds of drop-tags, both methods giving accurate travel locations, but not travel dates, meetings and matings, diet, and other field observations.

There were 21 successful road crossings this season by 8 study turtles and 1 new transient. Only 3 of these turtles were females nesting in the meadow.   One turtle (M67, new) was hit by a vehicle and died after 3 days.

Six turtles: M66(male), M67(male), M68(male), M69(male),  M70(male), and M71(male)  were found new this season.    Three turtles were found dead:  M62(f) found dead in a pasture with chickens and other farm stock, M65(F) found dead in the woods with damage from one or more small mammals, and M67(M), hit by a vehicle on a busy road.
Turtle M68 (Male), 351 grams, was found mating with M24 on 7/28/21.   M24 traveled outside her normal  activity area to find this male.  Later in the season M68 was found mating with turtle M1 who had traveled from the south slope to the top of the ridge for the second (unusual) time this season.    M68 traveled a very large loop during the summer months, ending his travel on the ridge top where he was found.

Most, but not all male Eastern Box turtles have bright red eyes, and M68 is an exception to this rule.  This turtle is likely not a transient, based on the tracking of his travels, but instead a resident of this population not seen before.
Turtle M66 (Male), was found crossing the road on June 3rd by employees Chris and Troy.   Likely a transient from outside this population,  M66 is large and very old and has examples of about every type of carapace and plastron damage found in this population, including scute pealing, not yet a well explained type of damage, but appears to be healthy otherwise.    He was tracked into hibernation in mid-november,  in the woods a couple miles from where he was originally found.
Turtle M1(Female) spent most of the season in her primary activity area on the south facing slope, but traveled to the top of the ridge twice, to the power line ROW corner.  M1 travels here annually and has often been found mating, and occasionally then crossing the road and nesting in the meadow.  On 10/24, just before here normal hibernation date, M1 was looking ill, and was retrieved on 10/28 and taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for tests and treatment and was kept over the winter.  She will be brought back to her actiity area near the spring emergence date.  

0.9 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M13 (Male) spent most of the season on top of a high ridge as he has done the past few seasons.

On  July 12th, his radio signals disappeared abruptly, and he was searched for almost every day.  He was finally heard again on  August 9th,  and was found 3 feet deep in a rock crevice, wedged near the bottom.  He was rescued a week later and was left in the woods to recover.   He returned to the top of the ridge where he hibernated in November. 

0.8 GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M3(male) strayed from his normal activity area this season, as he made a number of long and very quick forays to the Tank Road Meeting Area and back to his normal activity area. e was making multiple trips into an area he has never been observed visiting since being founjd  and tracked in 2009.   He did not cross the road, and was observed mating a number of times with turtles M24, and M43.   

4.5 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M38 (female)   With the recent deaths of M15(m), M19(m), and M51(m), all killed on roads, M38 has few if any permanent male co-residents in the hollow which is her primary activity area.  Much of this season was spent over the ridge top on the north slope, which might have been cooler, bt was not found mating there.  She returned to hibernate in exactly the same place as in 2019.

1.5 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M6 (female) traveled out of the drainage, and crossed the road into the meadow, as usual, and after nesting, returned to a stump hole very close to the place she hibernated last season, and close to the stump holes she has been using and re-using for many years near the bottom of the south slope near the ravine.    

1.1 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M10 (male) stayed mostly within his familiar activity area this summer, and hibernated exactly where he did last season.   M10 did not visit the Tank Road meeting area this summer, and has been seen there less since the deaths of M9(F) and M8(M), both primary residents.  
  
Only 17 points  were collected and only 0.5 GPS miles tracked this season.  He likey traveled much further.
Turtle M11 (female)  primarily a meadow resident, M11 spent most of this season in the woods.  She traveled to the same wooded locations as in the past, but spent much less time traveling in the meadow.  She hibernated near the road, as usual, only a few feet from her previous hibernation sites. 

1.2 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M12 (male) spent a small amout of the season on the north facing slope of the drainage, but returned to the south slope before hibernation.  M12 hibernated only a few feet fom his 2020 site. 

0.4 GPS miles tracked this season, but he surely traveled much further, as he was tracked very little this season.
Turtle M18 (male) is primarily a meadow resident, but usually hibernates in the woods.  This season he stayed in the lower meadow much of the season, where he is usually found mating, and chose an exposed hibernation site in the upper meadow under a small stand of trees, only about 8 feet from his 2020 hibernation site. 

1.1 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M24 (female) made 2 successful road crossings this season, into the meadow to nest; a normal summer travel behavior for this turtle.  After returning to her relatively small primary activity area, she mated with M3(M), and spent the majority of the rest of the summer near the top of the ridge.  She hibernated down-slope in a sheltered spot, away from her normal hibernation locations.

1.6 GPS miles tracked this season.

Turtle M27 (male)  predictively spent most of this season near the top of the ridge close to the power line ROW.   He made 2 new forrays: one almost to the highway, and one to the very top of the ridge just before hibernation.  He hibernated exactly where he emerged, and where he hibernates nearly every season.  With the death of several adult Edsel Hollow resident males (M15, M19 and M51) in the past few years, M27 is the only male resident left, except those that travel here from other areas, and then leave.   (Two adult males; M70 and M71,  were found new at the very end of the season only a few days before hibernation, but it is not yet known if  they are transients or residents.)

2.0 GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M29 (male)  primarily a meadow resident, was tracked less this season because of the hot and humid summer weather.  M29 traveled less this season than in the past, and in September, for the first time since he was found, M29 crossed the road and spent a about 2 weeks in a grown-over vista-cut down slope from the road.  After crossing back, he spent the remainder of the season in the woods and meadow and hibernated only 6 feet from his 2020 hibernation site.  

1.0 GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M32 (male) was tracked less this season than in the past, but traveled the same activity area, in the same unusual up and downslope pattern he traveled in previous years. 

1.0 GPS mile tracked this season
Turtle M40 (female), again this season made the very long trip from the sheltered cove to the Cabin Meeting Area.  She did not return to the primary drainage, but instead stayed nearby and hibernated mid-slope in the hollow. 

1.4 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M41 (female) has been a primary resident of the north facing slope since first found, but in the 2019 season, crossed over the ridge top into the hollow where she spent most of that summer season and hibernated.  This season she remained in the hollow much of the summer, but crossed back over the ridge into a familiar area in late summer and stayed on the north side of the ridge and hibernated there, exacty where she emerged in the spring.   

1.3 GPS miles tracked this season 
Turtle M42 (female)  is primarily a resident of the sheltered cove and south slope where she hibernates, but travels to the meadow, crossing and re-crossing the road during some summer season after traveling a very long distance.  

1.4 GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M43 (female)  hibernated in the woods close to the Cabin Meeting Area in 2018 and traveled over the ridge top  at emergence to her primary activity area where she spent  most of the 2019 summer season.  Oddly, during this summer, M43 traveled back to within a few feet of her 2018 hibernation spot once again and retuned to her primary activity area only 2 days later.

During the 2021 season, M43 mated with M3 (and maybe others) several times.

2.5 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M46 (male) appears to have spent nearly this entire summer season on the lower slope near the protected cove where he has been found in past seasons.  But this area is an arduous hike from any access point, so he was not tracked often this season, but his radios could be heard in this area from adjacent ridges.
Turtle M48 (male)   is primarily a ridge-top resident, but is also known to leave the top and  travel down to the road, rarely crossing, and occassionally travels to the meadow's edge.

Turtle M48 is rarely observed mating or meeting, but covers a large area of the ridgetop during the summer seasons  

1.5 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M49 (female)  Another large female, M49 was originally found in 2017, but lost only 2 days later.  She has spent most of her travels since being re-found,  in the hollow across the ridge, and has hibernated on the very top of the ridge for 3 seasons. 

M49 usually spends at least a couple of weeks partially buried in the mud in a small seep and spring, and makes one foray partway up the hollow's north slope, before re-crossing the hollow and climbing to the top of the ridge where she hibernates.

1.4 GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M50 (female)  M50 hibernated in 2019 on the south facing slope in the hollow in the clearcut, but climbed to the top of the ridge above the clearcut, and was tracked to the other side of a large, broad drainage where she hibernated under some steep cliffs in 2020.  This season she returned to within a short distance of her 2019 site to hibernate.

M50 was originally found crossing the road into the meadow 5 years ago, and has been tracked traveling a number of very long annual routes since.  This female is a possible transient, but has continued to travel within the study area.  No primary activity area has yet to  be determined. 

M50 was tracked 1.4 GPS miles this season. 
















Turtle M53 (female), a large and colorful adult, spends nearly all of her time on the very top of the ridge in the woods, occasionally observed in the meadow, close to M42(F), M11(F). another large female.  Meetings between females in this population is unusual.   

1.2 GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M54 (male) was found new in the meadow in 2017 mating with M50.  It's not yet known if he should be considered a transient or resident,  but it appears he travels mostly within this study area.  In 4 seasons he has been tracked 6.7 GPS miles, over a very large area.   

2.3  GPS miles tracked this season
Turtle M57 (female)   M57 spents nearly her entire seasons within a relatively small primary activity area high up on this north slope, which includes a power line ROW and a flat logging landing, and a clear woods.  This seems to also be an area well traveled by turtle M27(M) (and some other study turtles), but M57 hibernates here every winter (tracked so far). 

1.3 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M58 (male) was tracked out of hibernation on top of the ridge and back into hibernation in 2021.  M58 was found 9/2/18, lost, found again in 2019, lost, and found once again in September 2020 when meeting with M13 on the top of the ridge.  M58 spends time during the summer months in the lower meadow, where other turtles go to meet and mate.

1.1 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M63 (female)   M63 was found new last season (7/3/19) in my driveway near the public road, and spent the 2019 season nearby and hibernated in the woods.   Soon after emergence in the 2020 season, she was found mating with M64, a new find, and soon crossed 2 roads and traveled away from the area into Edsel Hollow (yellow line).   M63 left the hollow in late summer,  crossing over the ridge top and downslope to the bottom, where she hibernated near the creek.

0.2 GPS miles tracked this season.
Turtle M64(Male), was found last season mating with M63(F), who was found new in 2019.  Again this season, he stayed within a relatively small primary activity area of 7 acres only rarely traveling into a meadow, and once crossing 2 roads and later crossing back mid-season.
 
There are no physical barriers around this activity area, and M64 is continually active during the summer months.  The tracked route may appear to be random movement, but it includes a number of familiar small open spaces and landmarks.  

3.5 GPS miles tracked this season, with 118 gps locations.
Turtle M65(M), was found new early last season, next to M49(F),

0.6 GPS miles tracked this season.
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Turtle M69 (female), 479 grams, was found mating with M64 on 10/13 the same place M64(m) was found last season mating with M63(f).  This late in the season and close to cold fall temperatures, M69 traveled only a short distance before selecting a hibernation site.  She will be tracked next spring.

This small, old female has flared rear marginal scutes, unusual for a female, and a plastron with a distinct up-curved anterior section.
2008-2022
Turtle M70 (Male), 507 grams, was found 10/14 close to M49(F), who was headed for her normal hibernatin site on top of the ridge.  If M70 stays in the hollow next spring, he will be one of only 2 known males remaining after 3 important adult males M15, M19, ad M51 were all killed by vehicles the last couple of years.
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Newly found turtles in 2021
Turtle M71 (Male),    grams, was found             close to where M70(M) and M49(F) traveled in the previous week or so.  While most other turtles were now in hibernation sites, M71 was found on top of the leaves, in the sum with a clean carapace (not muddy). 
M66 (Male),  grams, was found crossing the road on June 3rd by employees Chris and Troy, and was tracked into hibernation.   Very likely a transient to this study population, he is probably very old and has a consierable amount of damage of various kinds, to his carapace and plastron.  Te area into hich this turtle moved is mixed old pasture and clear forest and is close to where many box turtles have been seen crossing the road, and some killed as a result.

M66 was tracked 2.2 GPS miles  in 2021
Turtle M68 (Male), 351 grams, was found mating with M24 on 7/28/21.   M24 traveled outside her normal activity area to find this male.  M68 stayed mostly on the south slope and ridge top this season, and mated with at least 2 turtles (M24 and M1)
M68 traveled a very large loop during the summer months, ending his travel on the ridge top where he was found.  His travel would suggest he is not a transient, but he has never been seen before this season.

1.0 GPS miles tracked in 2021 


Turtle M69 (female), 479 grams, was found mating with M64 on 10/13 the same place M64(m) was found last season mating with M63(f).  This late in the season and close to cold fall temperatures, M69 traveled only a short distance before selecting a hibernation site.