Stable Isotope Ecology of Desert Box Turtles at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico



We have developed a project using Thermochron iButtons (miniature temperature dataloggers) to study desert box turtle thermal ecology. By attaching the iButtons to the carapaces of the animals, and pre-programming them to record at 15 minute intervals, we can easily see when the animals are emerging from their burrows, how long they are active, and when they re-enter shelter. Compared with iButtons at stratified heights in the environment, one can actually come up with a fairly solid time budget for these animals. In addition, we have a small strip of keratin from many of the captured turtles. This strip holds a sequence of every growth ring an animal has produced over its life, similar to a tree ring chronology. Together with blood plasma and red blood cell samples, we can model the nutritional ecology of these turtles, via stable isotope analyses, over the course of their lives. We will combine available climate data with growth ring measurements and iButton temperature profiles, to paint a robust and revealing picture of the ecology of an otherwise obscure inhabitant of the Sevilleta, the desert box turtle.

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Thursday, June 1, 2006

Publication Date: 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



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Field Crew


Field Crew