Title

Thermal Biology of the Mexican Spotted Wood Turtle in a Tropical Deciduous Forest

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Campus where you would like to present

Ellensburg

Event Website

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source

Start Date

18-5-2020

Abstract

As global temperatures have increased with climate change, hurricanes have become stronger in the tropics. In October of 2015, Hurricane Patricia, a massive, category 5 storm struck the tropical dry forest (TDF) of Chamela, Jalisco, a biosphere reserve in western Mexico where this study was done. The strong winds broke branches, toppled trees, and deposited considerable woody debris onto the forest floor, resulting in a more open forest canopy and increased surface temperatures. We investigated how the Mexican Spotted Wood Turtle (R. r. perixantha), an endemic terrestrial turtle in Mexico’s TDF, responded to the changes in forest temperatures brought about by this disturbance. We outfitted six turtles with continuous hourly temperature dataloggers during 12 weeks of the dry (March-June) and wet (August-October) seasons of 2019. We also sampled forest temperatures by placing temperature-logging copper models on exposed surfaces, and under woody debris, in microhabitats available to the turtles. Temperature data were retrieved on three males and one female for both seasons. Temperatures of dataloggers carried by the turtles during the dry season were significantly cooler and showed much greater variation (25.98°C ± 4.5; n=4), than during the wet season (28.08°C ± 2.6; n=4). Temperatures of data loggers (copper models) in the forest were higher (and less variable) during the wet season, suggesting that thermoregulation may be more challenging at that time because there are fewer temperature options for turtles. As forest temperatures increase due to climate change, turtles may have more difficulty finding adequate microhabitats in which to thermoregulate.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Daniel Beck

Department/Program

Biological Sciences

Additional Mentoring Department

https://cwu.studentopportunitycenter.com/2020/04/thermal-biology-of-the-mexican-spotted-wood-turtle-in-a-tropical-deciduous-forest/

Share

COinS
 
May 18th, 12:00 PM

Thermal Biology of the Mexican Spotted Wood Turtle in a Tropical Deciduous Forest

Ellensburg

As global temperatures have increased with climate change, hurricanes have become stronger in the tropics. In October of 2015, Hurricane Patricia, a massive, category 5 storm struck the tropical dry forest (TDF) of Chamela, Jalisco, a biosphere reserve in western Mexico where this study was done. The strong winds broke branches, toppled trees, and deposited considerable woody debris onto the forest floor, resulting in a more open forest canopy and increased surface temperatures. We investigated how the Mexican Spotted Wood Turtle (R. r. perixantha), an endemic terrestrial turtle in Mexico’s TDF, responded to the changes in forest temperatures brought about by this disturbance. We outfitted six turtles with continuous hourly temperature dataloggers during 12 weeks of the dry (March-June) and wet (August-October) seasons of 2019. We also sampled forest temperatures by placing temperature-logging copper models on exposed surfaces, and under woody debris, in microhabitats available to the turtles. Temperature data were retrieved on three males and one female for both seasons. Temperatures of dataloggers carried by the turtles during the dry season were significantly cooler and showed much greater variation (25.98°C ± 4.5; n=4), than during the wet season (28.08°C ± 2.6; n=4). Temperatures of data loggers (copper models) in the forest were higher (and less variable) during the wet season, suggesting that thermoregulation may be more challenging at that time because there are fewer temperature options for turtles. As forest temperatures increase due to climate change, turtles may have more difficulty finding adequate microhabitats in which to thermoregulate.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2020/COTS/11