Thesis

Blood profiles in Western Pond Turtles (Emys marmorata) from a nature reserve and comparison witha population froma modified habitat

Freshwater turtles worldwide are declining due to a variety of human caused impacts. The Western Pond Turtle (Emys marmorata) is native to the pacific coast of the North America and is also in decline. Many Western Pond Turtles live in human-modified habitats. The ecophysiology of this species in impacted habitats is largely unknown and blood profile baselines from healthy populations in natural habitats are lacking. Western Pond Turtles were sampled from a nature reserve (n=61) and wastewater treatment facility (n=37) and blood profiles were performed, which included determination of hematocrit and thirteen serum chemistry analytes. Baseline blood profiles for a subset of clinically healthy E. marmorata from a highly natural habitat were documented, including values for gravid females, with significant differences noted between males and females for 8 chemistries. Blood profiles were also compared between all sampled male turtles from the nature reserve and the wastewater facility populations; with significant differences found in ten blood analytes between populations at these habitats. The blood profile baselines from the nature reserve population will be helpful to wildlife veterinarians in evaluating disease in this species and possibly other Emydid turtles. Furthermore, the differences in blood profiles between populations suggest that turtles from altered habitats may have impacted physiologies and that blood profiles, with further study, may be useful in assessing the suitability of modified habitats. Managers may use this work in assessing the health of Western Pond Turtle populations and planning conservation strategies in altered landscapes.

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