Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas K. Pauley

Second Advisor

Jeffrey May

Third Advisor

Frank Gilliam


The Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is listed as vulnerable in West Virginia and only occurs in the Eastern Panhandle. The study population is unique in West Virginia because it occurs at a much higher mean elevation than other Wood Turtle populations in the state. The primary objective of this study was to determine if, and to what extent, altitude affected this population’s ecology. Turtles were located with opportunistic surveys and captured by hand. I located 31 turtles: 18 males, and 13 females. Turtles were captured a total of 68 times. Ratio of males to females did not differ significantly from 1:1. Morphometric measurements were taken slightly differently than in other studies thus occluding results, but it appears this population may be slightly larger than other WV Wood Turtles. Growth after a conservative estimate of maturity was 1.00 ± 0.56 mm per year, but may occur at an older age. Total adult population was estimated to be 53 ± 14, and the density of turtles in occupied areas was 2.27 adult turtles per hectare. No juveniles were captured, which bodes poorly for the viability of the population. The population is reproducing, owing to the discovery of nests and a hatchling, but may not be recruiting hatchlings into older cohorts. I found some evidence to support the notion that this population has natural history traits more typical of higher latitudes including larger body sizes, maturity at larger body sizes, and lower turtle density, but a lack of recruitment would mean an aging population that would mimic more northerly populations as individuals age. Additional research is needed on this population to determine if it is currently recruiting young turtles or is a ghost population and at risk of extirpation.


Clemmys guttata - Ecology - West Virginia

Wood turtle - Ecology - West Virginia