Riparian Habitat Dissimilarities in Restored and Reference Streams are Associated with Differences in Turtle Communities in the Southeastern Piedmont
© 2014, Society of Wetland Scientists. Few studies have assessed whether restored streams and riparian floodplains support reference communities of certain groups of freshwater organisms, such as turtles. This exploratory study compared turtle assemblages in six reference and six restored streams in the North Carolina Piedmont, which were assessed using standard trapping practices with baited hoop nets. We also quantified turtle-relevant habitat characteristics (structure, water quality, vegetation) through reach-scale surveys to assess potential differences in turtle composition. Turtle abundance at restored sites was more than twice that of references sites and trends existed in the distribution of turtle species, but neither abundance nor composition was found to be statistically different. Habitat characteristics that affect turtle communities were not equivalent between sites, with reference streams having higher canopy cover, and lower total phosphorus, dissolved oxygen and total suspended solids than restored streams. Mantel’s test and non-metric multidimensional scaling plots indicated that turtle composition was significantly correlated with habitat and vegetation, and that turtle communities were generally separated between restored and reference streams. These findings suggest a pattern that restored streams with riparian wetlands may provide more suitable habitat than reference streams for most southeastern Piedmont turtle species, but further studies are required to fully examine these patterns.
Dudley, MP; Ho, M; Richardson, CJ
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