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Thermal environments of overwintering Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina)

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Using a mixed-effects model for 21 Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina (L., 1758)) over three winters in Maryland, USA, we demonstrate that overwintering-site temperature was mainly related to air temperature. After controlling for air temperature, between-year variation accounted for 7%, between-turtle variation accounted for 3%, and variation owing to age class accounted for 1% of the total variation in overwintering-site temperature. Turtles showed overwintering-site fidelity and the location of overwintering sites did not depend on sex or age. According to the developed function, air temperature would have to increase by 3 °C over the overwintering period to raise the temperature of overwintering sites by about 1 °C, assuming no changes in other environmental factors; this level of warming is not expected until 2070-2090 according to general climate circulation models.

L’utilisation d’un modèle à effets mixtes avec 21 tortues-boîtes de l’Est (Terrapene carolina carolina (L., 1758)) pendant trois hivers au Maryland, É.-U., nous a permis de démontrer que la température du site d’hivernage est surtout reliée à la température de l’air. Après avoir tenu compte de la température de l’air, la variation entre les années explique 7 % de la variation totale de la température dans le site d’hivernage; la variation entre les tortues explique 3 % et la classe d’âge 1 %. Les tortues montrent une fidélité au site d’hivernage et la position du site d’hivernage ne dépend ni du sexe, ni de l’âge. D’après la fonction obtenue, la température de l’air devrait augmenter de 3 °C durant la période d’hivernage pour accroître la température dans les sites d’hivernage d’environ 1 °C, en l’absence de changements dans les autres facteurs du milieu; un réchauffement de cette importance n’est pas prévu avant 2070-2090 d’après les modèles généraux de circulation du climat.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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