Turtles are long-lived and globally declining, but relatively little is known about the natural history of many turtle species. Even amongst relatively well-studied species, there is a paucity of information for some habitats and long-term population trends are lacking. Here we report the results from the first three years of an intended long-term population survey of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii) in the prairie highlands of the Coteau des Prairies, South Dakota. Turtles were sampled using basking traps, hoop traps, and dip nets. Catch per unit effort varied between years, but not significantly so, and hoop traps significantly outperformed basking traps. Population estimates calculated using the Schnabel Index decreased over the three years of the study; although this could accurately represent a decreasing population, it is likely the result of small sample sizes. The adult sex ratio was slightly skewed toward females, but not significantly so. Our results underscore the need to study wide-ranging species, such as the Painted Turtle, in all habitats within their range using multiple sampling techniques.
(c)2023 Eagle Hill Institute
Waye, H.L, A.C. Dolan and P.C. Dolan. 2023. Emerging Patterns in Population Structure and Trap Efficacy After Three Years of a Survey of Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii, Gray, 1830) in Marshall County, South Dakota. Prairie Naturalist 57:124-134.