Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas Pauley

Second Advisor

Jayme Waldron

Third Advisor

Suzanne Strait

Fourth Advisor

Dan Evans


Road mortality has been identified as a major threat to many turtle species; however, response to passing vehicles, crossing speed, and general behavior while crossing roads has never been investigated in turtles. To investigate these factors, Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata), Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene c. carolina), and Stinkpots (Sternotherus odoratus) were collected and placed in a release box on the side of a closed road with an active road running parallel to it 26 m away. Turtles were released via a pulley-operated door facing the road, and their actions videotaped by an observer in a nearby blind. A vehicle was driven past crossing turtles on the closed road to simulate passing traffic in the adjoining lane. Resulting videos were used to determine the frequency of responses and length of stops due to passing vehicles, effective crossing speed, and other on-road behavior. Following trials, turtles were released at the original point of capture. Eastern Box Turtles stopped due to the stimulus of active road vehicles more than either Stinkpots or Midland Painted Turtles (87.50%, 33.33%, and 22.22%, respectively), and when stopped, they remained stationary for a greater time. All species reacted to a passing closed road vehicle by stopping on the road; however, Stinkpots had a greater mean stop time than Eastern Box Turtles or Midland Painted Turtles, although differences between Stinkpots and Eastern Box Turtles were not statistically significant. Eastern Box Turtles averaged slower effective crossing speeds than Midland Painted Turtles or Stinkpots. These results indicate that Eastern Box Turtles are at greater risk of mortality when crossing divided highways than either Stinkpots or Midland Painted Turtles due to slower effective crossing speeds and a higher stop response rate to opposing lane vehicles.


Turtles - Behavior.

Animal behavior.

Turtles - West Virginia.