SREL Reprint #0520




Ecological and Life History Aspects of the Cooter, Chrysemys floridana (Le Conte)

J. Whitfield Gibbons and John W. Coker



An 8-year mark-release-recapture study was conducted on the cooter, Chrysemys floridana.  Field work centered around a terrestrial drift fence and pitfall trap system encircling a Carolina bay habitat near Aiken, South Carolina.

Terrestrial movement patterns of nonhatchling C. floridana were similar to that for other species.  Immigration to the aquatic habitat is locationally random but emigration appears directional and confined to a particular sector of the periphery.  Uncertainty exists as to whether the observed emigration represents actual movement of individuals toward a nearby aquatic habitat or whether the effect is a consequence of localized high adult density and shoreline basking.  Hatchlings overwinter on land, entering the water in March or April up to 9 or 10 months after egg laying.  No correlations were observed between terrestrial activity and daily weather conditions.

Immature C. floridana increase 2-4 cm in plastron length each year with the expected abrupt decline in growth at the onset of maturity.  Males mature at plastron lengths of 10-12 cm and an age of about 3 years in South Carolina.  Females mature at 20-24 cm and ages of 6 or 7 years.


SREL Reprint #0520

Gibbons, J.W. and J.W. Coker. 1977. Ecological and life history aspects of the cooter, Chrysemys floridana (Le Conte). Herpetologica 33:29-33.

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