From 1985 through 1991, I examined and categorized the sequential shell disarticulation patterns of 80 turtle specimens, representing six species and three families, in N-central Florida. Shells were allowed to disarticulate on land under natural environmental conditions. Turtle shells were observed from 5-54 mo. Based on examinations of photos, nine stages of disarticulation were identified. Although it is relatively easy to classify turtle shells into disarticulation stages, the amount of time between death and shell discovery cannot be determined precisely due to individual and species-specific variation in disarticulation rates. Shells do not necessarily pass sequentially through well-defined disarticulation stages. In general, shells of the most commonly observed species, Gopherus polyphemus, Pseudemys nelsoni and P. floridana, routinely remained intact from 12-30 mo, depending on species. Shells usually disarticulated completely by 40 mo or longer.
|Title||Disarticulation of turtle shells in north-central Florida: How long does a shell remain in the woods?|
|Authors||C. K. Dodd|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||American Midland Naturalist|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|