Abstract

Conservation of the imperiled spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) at the regional level (i.e., Georgia, USA) will require knowledge of the species historic and contemporary distribution, activity patterns, and habitat preferences. To address these needs, we compiled 170 records of spotted turtles in Georgia from 1892 to 2014, including 89 museum records, 80 records based on credible observations or photos, and 1 literature record. There are recent (1995–2014) records for 79 locations in 31 counties, with 29 of these occurring on 14 conservation lands. Our results demonstrate that the spotted turtle ranges throughout much of the Coastal Plain of Georgia including the Flint River and Withlacoochee River drainages of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Half of the records for which habitat could be classified (62 of 124 records, 50%) were associated with blackwater creek swamps or seepage slope swamps. Remarkably, all but 4 Georgia spotted turtle records with body size data (i.e., 150 of 154; 97%) were based on adult turtles. The majority of Georgia records with the date included were from the late winter–spring (134 of 160 records, 84%, February–May). Likewise, the majority of observations were turtles found on roads (94 of 170 records; 55%), the majority of which (63; 67%) were alive. For the spotted turtle in Georgia, we recommend 1) continued protection and state-listing status, and 2) initiating long-term mark–recapture efforts to estimate population sizes and demographics and evaluate population trends.

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