Poster Session & Social
4:40 PM - 6:30 PM Wed
POSTER PRESENTER #13
TITLE: Pop goes the muskrat: Evidence of muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) in the diet of the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
ABSTRACT: Identifying diet and other natural history requirements of an organism is essential to the proper management and conservation of that organism. The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is an imperiled semi-aquatic emydid turtle with a distribution concentrated on wetland habitats within the Great lakes region of the United States and Southern Canada. Diet and food habits of the Blanding’s turtle are characterized as omnivorous with a variety of plant and animal items reported. Crayfish and pulmonate snails comprise upwards of 90% of the diet in some populations. As part of a long term recovery program of Northern Illinois Blanding’s turtles,we discovered unknown mammal-like hair in the feces of an adult female Blanding’s turtle. Hair comparison analysis identified the hair to be that of the common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). The consumption of mammals by Blanding’s turtles has only been proposed in the literature and never documented. We report the first documented occurrence of the consumption of a muskrat—and the first mammal—by a Blanding’s turtle.
BIO: Joseph Cannizzaro is a Master’s degree student in the Biology department at UW-Milwaukee. He studies Anuran behavioral ecology primarily in the Eastern Gray Tree frog (Hyla versicolor). He also publishes on reptile and amphibian biology at large, with emphasis on ecology, evolution, and conservation biology.