The Northwestern Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata; WPT) was once widespread throughout the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Much of its historical range has been converted into agricultural land, reducing and altering aquatic habitat and surrounding uplands. Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans; RES) have been introduced throughout much of the existing WPT range, particularly near urban centers, potentially competing with WPT for resources. Previous surveys for turtles in central California have primarily focused on rivers, lakes, and protected wetlands. Little is known about where WPT and RES occur in the vast expanses of agricultural land across the Sacramento Valley and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Using aquatic hoop nets, we surveyed 142 locations (102 irrigation canal sites, 39 wetlands, 1 tidally influenced slough) across 8 counties during the summers of 2018 and 2019. Both species were detected in agricultural habitats. Using occupancy modeling, we estimated that WPT occur at 44 (95% CRI = 38–53) of our trapping sites and RES occur at 51 (41–66) sampled sites. Co-occurrence of these 2 species was rare; the species were found together at only 6 sites. RES were primarily found in restored wetlands near major roads and the Sacramento metropolitan area, whereas WPT were more commonly found farther from urban areas in wider canals. Our work provides a picture of how WPT and RES occupy this modified agroecosystem that can inform future conservation efforts.
|Title||Rural turtles: Estimating the occupancy of Northwestern Pond Turtles and non-native red-eared sliders in agricultural habitats in California's Sacramento Valley and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta|
|Authors||Jonathan P. Rose, Brian J. Halstead, Alexandria M. Fulton|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Northwestern Naturalist|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|