Meeting Abstract

P1.180  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Memory use as a possible mechanism for over-land movements in Eastern Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta picta): behavioral and neurological evidence PROVINE, SR*; O’MALLEY, H; KROCHMAL, AR; ROTH, TC; Kenyon College; Washington College; Washington College; Kenyon College

Aquatic turtles leave the water and traverse terrestrial habitats during oviposition, nesting or when the aquatic habitat becomes degraded. Though overland movements are central to the biology of aquatic turtles, few studies have been devoted to the documentation and the possible mechanism of such movements. Here, we report the results of an ongoing investigation into the terrestrial movements of Eastern Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), where successful overland movement between water sources hinges on familiarity with the surrounding upland habitat. Briefly, the movement patterns of resident (N=19) and translocated (N=10) turtles were examined in ephemeral ponds at Chesapeake Farms, Kent Co., MD. We found that while resident turtles successfully located far-off permanent bodies of water quickly and easily, all translocated turtles failed to do so. This work suggests the possibility of spatial memory use or other cognitive factors during these navigations. Relative to their resident counterparts, translocated individuals traveled greater distances at slower rates, changed direction more frequently, and moved in irregular, non-linear patterns, failing to avoid navigation barriers. In a subset of animals, we examined the neurological correlates of space use that may provide an understanding of the mechanisms behind these differences in movement (e.g., spatial memory). We report volumetric data for the medial and dorsal cortices and discuss these results in light of observed movement patterns.