Turtles are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of urbanization due to low mobility and a life history strategy emphasizing long generation times and high adult survival. In addition to declines directly through habitat loss, urbanization has been hypothesized to limit populations of aquatic turtles through changes in population structure, as adult females are disproportionally killed on and near roads, leading to male-biased populations, which can lead to population declines or local extirpations. The purpose of this study was to better understand how urbanization impacts the sex ratios of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta
) in an urban ecosystem, as empirical results linking male-biased turtle populations to roads and urbanization are mixed. Using eight years of trapping data from a long-term monitoring program in a suburb of Chicago, IL, USA, we report one of the most male-biased populations (
= 75% male) of turtles in the USA, consistent with prevailing road mortality hypotheses. However, we found no evidence that male-biased populations were related to road density or the amount of protected area around a sampling location and found that impervious surface (a metric of urbanization) was weakly related to less male-biased populations. Our results highlight the importance of replicating ecological studies across space and time and the difficulty in assessing population structure in aquatic turtles. We suggest that active conservation measures may be warranted for the continued persistence of urban turtle populations.
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