Food Habits of the Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) in Lentic and Lotic Habitats, Spring Lake, Hays County, Texas

Date

2009-08

Authors

McDermid, Krista M.

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Abstract

I collected 147 common musk turtles from Spring Lake, San Marcos, Hays County, Texas between April 2008 and February 2009, to examine their dietary habits based on fecal analysis. I collected 70 female and 77 male turtles from lentic and lotic areas of the lake during spring, summer, fall and winter. After voiding their digestive tract contents all turtles were returned to the point of capture. Fecal matter was sorted into five component categories: mollusks, crayfish, insects, plant matter, and other. Five items per category per sample were identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level, resulting in the identification of 6 types of mollusks, 1 crayfish, 13 insects, 12 plants, and 4 additional taxa. After identification samples were dried and weighed. Mollusk material was the most abundant component of fecal material, followed by crayfish. I performed 3-way ANOVA tests of fecal component categories across three independent variables: habitat, gender and season. The percent weight of mollusks, crayfish and plants showed significant seasonal variation, while the percent weight of insects showed greater variation by habitat. The results of the qualitative identification of food items agree with previous research.

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Keywords

Common musk turtle, Feces, Food habits, Spring Lake

Citation

McDermid, K. M. (2009). <i>Food habits of the common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) in lentic and lotic habitats, Spring Lake, Hays County, Texas</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.

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