Population ecology and home range of the Mexican Rough-footed Mud Turtle (Kinosternon hirtipes murrayi) in Central Mexico
From Firenze University Press Journal: Acta Herpetologica
Alejandro Montiel-Ugalde, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Ángeles Aparicio, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
Eder Gaona Murillo, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo
Taggert Butterfield, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Rodrigo Macip-Ríos, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Knowledge of demographic characteristics, home range size, and movement patterns are important for designing conservation and management strategies for species (Gibbs and Amato, 2000; Primack, 2012). Demo-graphic characteristics include: population size, abundance, sex ratio, population structure, survivorship, and the contribution of these parameters to populations dynamics through time (Caswell, 2001). To measure any of these population characteristics accurately requires long-term data or a high rate of recaptures to estimate these parameters accurately (Lemos-Espinal et al., 2005; Molina-Zuluaga et al., 2013). However, because turtles are long-lived organisms, collection of demographic data presents a challenge because their lifespan can reach several decades (Crouse et al., 1987; Edmonds and Brooks, 1996; Enneson and Litzgus, 2008) and recaptures can be sparse (Chao, 1989).
On the other hand, measuring home range size and movement patterns requires more detailed studies where individuals are followed through space and time (Hays, 1992; Godley et al., 2002; Pérez-Pérez et al., 2017). Typical home range and movement studies are conducted using radiotelemetry so that individuals can be located repeatedly (Cochran, 1980; Singer and Blakenhol, 2015). When long term studies are coupled with radiotelemetry, clearer patterns of habitat use, migration, resource use, and seasonal patterns like aestivation can be detected. Despite the importance of long-term and detailed studies of turtle populations, most of the information that exists is on species within the United States (Iverson, 1991; Rouane et al., 2008; Enneson and Litzgus, 2008; Lovich and Ennen, 2013). Outside of the US, long-term and detailed studies with turtles have been largely neglected. For example, Mexico has the second most diverse turtle fauna in the world (Rhodin et al., 2017), yet long-term mark-recapture and radiotelemetry studies are few to non-existent (Legler and Vogt, 2013).
Only recently, biologists have started gener-ating this kind of data on Mexican turtle species (Macip-Ríos et al., 2009; 2011; Vázquez-Gómez et al., 2016; Pérez-Pérez et al., 2017). Mud turtles (Kinosternidae) have been a particular focus, as they are the most diverse turtle line-age in Mexico (Legler and Vogt, 2013). One of those spe-cies, the Mexican Rough-Footed Mud Turtle (Kinosternon hirtipes) is broadly distributed from the Big Bend region in a few localities in Western Texas (Platt and Medlock, 2015) to central Michoacán in the Mexican Transvolcanic Belt (Iverson, 1992). Throughout this range, five K. hirtipes sub-species are recognized: K. h. hirtipes in the Valley of Mexi-co; K. h. megacephalum (extinct) in Viesca, Coahuila; K. h. magdalense in the Magdalena River basin, Michoacán; K. h. chapalense in Chapala Lake and Zapotlán Lake, Jalisco; K. h. tarascense in Patzcuaro Lake, Michoacán; and K. h. murrayi, from the Big Bend region of Texas to the high-lands of Michoacán (Iverson, 1981).Despite their wide distribution in Mexico, most ecological information on K. hirtipes is from Iverson (1981; 1985), who described sexual size dimorphism, morphological differences, and basic distributional patterns among the subspecies. Some information also exists on K. h. murrayi. For example, Iverson et al. (1991) described the growth and reproduction of this subspecies in Chihuahua, Platt et al. (2016a) described their diet, Platt et al. (2016b) also described the reproductive ecology in their northern distribution limit in Texas, Platt and Med-lock (2015) studied aestivation behavior, and Smith et al. (2015; 2018) reported a new body size record and nesting behavior.
In general, these studies demonstrate that K. h. murrayi exhibits more morphological variation than other subspecies, has wide variation in body size, and is sexually dimorphic, with males typically being larger than females (Glass and Hartweg, 1951; Iverson, 1985).Our aim was to generate additional ecological infor-mation on K. h. murrayi using capture-mark-recapture methods and radiotelemetry in a wetland near Morelia, Michoacán, México. Our specific objectives were to describe basic population ecology parameters, home range, and movement patterns of K. h. murrayi in a human-modified landscape.
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