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Diversity 2019, 11(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11030040

Tradeoffs with Growth and Behavior for Captive Box Turtles Head-Started with Environmental Enrichment

1
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1102 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2
Engineer Research and Development Center, 2902 Newmark Drive, Champaign, IL 61822, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Biology and Conservation of Turtles)
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Abstract

Head-starting is a conservation strategy that entails releasing captive-reared animals into nature at sizes large enough to better resist post-release predation. However, efforts to maximize growth in captivity may jeopardize development of beneficial behaviors. Environmental enrichment can encourage natural behaviors before release but potentially comes with a tradeoff of reduced growth in complex enclosures. We compared growth and behavior of enriched and unenriched captive-born juvenile box turtles (Terrapene carolina). Enriched turtles grew slower than unenriched turtles during the first eight months in captivity, although growth rates did not differ between treatments from 9–20 months old. After five months post-hatching, unenriched turtles became and remained larger overall than enriched turtles. During two foraging tasks, unenriched turtles consumed more novel prey than enriched turtles. In a predator recognition test, eight-month-old enriched turtles avoided raccoon (Procyon lotor) urine more than unenriched turtles of the same age, but this difference was not apparent one year later. The odds of turtles emerging from a shelter did not differ between treatments regardless of age. Although our results suggest turtles raised in unenriched environments initially grew faster and obtained larger overall sizes than those in enriched conditions, tradeoffs with ecologically-relevant behaviors were either absent or conditional. View Full-Text
Keywords: antipredator behavior; behavioral assay; growth rate; captive-rearing; foraging behavior; Terrapene carolina antipredator behavior; behavioral assay; growth rate; captive-rearing; foraging behavior; Terrapene carolina
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Tetzlaff, S.J.; Sperry, J.H.; DeGregorio, B.A. Tradeoffs with Growth and Behavior for Captive Box Turtles Head-Started with Environmental Enrichment. Diversity 2019, 11, 40.

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