Assessing Health Through Hematology in Head-started Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii)

Ethan J. Kessler, Matthew C. Allender, Michael J. Dreslik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


186 0205 AES Morphology, Ecology, & Physiology, Carson 2, Sunday 19 July 2015Steven Kessel1, Alexander Hansell4, Samuel Gruber1, Tristan Guttridge1, Nigel Hussey2, Rupert Perkins31Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation, Bimini, Bahamas, 2University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada, 3Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK, 4University of Massachusetts, Fairhaven, MA, USALemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris) Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) Trends, Bimini, Bahamas, Derived from a Fishery Independent, 32-year Shallow Water Longline SurveyLong-term population assessments are necessary to determine species specific trends and inform management decisions. The waters surrounding the Bimini Islands, Bahamas, are rich in elasmobranch fauna. This study assessed three shallow water longline research campaigns at this location, 1982 - 1992, 1993 - 2003 and 2004 - 2014, with the aim to determine annual catch per unit effort (CPUE) trends for an IUCN listed near threatened species, the lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris). A general additive model (GAM) was used to analyse the non-linear annual CPUE values over the entire 32 year research period. The GAM displayed high variability of annual CPUE, with a peak value of 0.026 in 2000. The 1982-1992 campaign saw highest portion of mature individuals (19.8%) and the smallest average pre-caudal length [PCL] (198 cm). The 1993 - 2003 campaign had the highest average annual CPUE (0.018) and percentage of total capture (32.3%). The 2004 - 2014 research period saw largest average PCL size (134.8 cm) and the lowest average CPUE values (0.009) of the entire research period. Long-term trends of this study highlight annual variability, and provide a baseline for future assessment of the Bahamas shark sanctuary relative to lemon shark abundance. 0573 Poster Session II, Reno Ballroom & Tahoe Room, Saturday 18 July 2015Ethan J. Kessler1, Matthew C. Allender2, Michael J. Dreslik11Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL, USA, 2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USAAssessing Health Through Hematology in Head-started Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macrochelys temminckii)Anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation have made translocation programs a necessary component of conservation plans for many species. Because young turtles have high mortality rates, many programs use head-starting to alleviate size-specific mortality. Assessing post-release survival is a common component of successful translocation programs however, hematological assessments are absent from the majority of chelonian programs. The Alligator Snapping Turtle (AST; Macrochelys temminckii) is state-endangered in Illinois with the last known free-ranging individual observed in 1984. A multi-institutional translocation program was undertaken to recover 187 the species in 2014 after a successful pilot release. Sixty-two head-started AST of mass 104-7300g and originating from Peoria Zoo (PZ) and Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery (TNFH) were fitted with radio-transmitters and released in July 2014 in a single riverine system. Individuals were recaptured in October 2014. Complete blood counts were performed upon release and recapture. TNFH turtles had increased WBC counts (WBC mean: 12,383.81; 95% CI: 11,293.99-13,473.62) with significantly higher heterophils, lymphocytes monocytes, and basophils, than PZ turtles (WBC mean: 3,967.51; 95% CI: 3,386.60-4,548.43). Turtles with higher mass displayed significantly lower PCV and TS values. Additionally, individual WBC counts decreased between samples (mean ΔWBC: -3,135.85), and heterophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils, PCV, and TS were significantly lower within individuals between samples. Head-started AST of varying mass and origin have different initial health profiles and while individual hematology changes through time these changes are independent of mass and origin. Continued monitoring may elucidate changes in survival, behavior, or pathogen susceptibility that will aid this and future conservation plans.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2015 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 15-19 July 2016, Reno, Nevada
StatePublished - 2015


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