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Past Research Activities

Eastern Box Turtle

eastern box turtle

Project Investigators
Brian MacGowan, Purdue University, (765) 647-3538, macgowan@purdue.edu
Rod Williams, Purdue University, (765) 494-3568, rodw@purdue.edu

Recent research indicates that previously unnoticed declines in box turtle populations have become apparent across the country. What were often regarded as ‘good numbers’ in box turtle density, have been determined to be insufficient for healthy population growth and survival. Although Indiana does have a few healthy populations, these populations are widely scattered. Timber harvesting is a major land use activity throughout the range of this forest species that could impact turtle populations.

Our research is designed to evaluate the responses of box turtle home range and habitat use to even- and uneven-aged timber harvesting. Beginning in May 2007, we located box turtles in 6 research core areas (2 control, 2 uneven-age, 2 even-age) and subsequently tracked individuals 2-3 times per week through October 2007. Vegetation characteristics collected at a subset of turtle locations will be used to assess box turtle habitat use and selection.

Relatively high population densities of box turtles are required for successful reproduction. In 2007, we established two, 20-acre search plots within the each core area. Plots were searched for turtles 6 times to estimate local population densities within each plot. All data collected in 2007 and part of 2008 will serve as the baseline to compare to post-harvest responses.

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber rattlesnake

Project Investigator
Brian MacGowan, Purdue University, (765) 494-7739, macgowan@purdue.edu

Timber rattlesnakes have experienced population declines throughout most of their range. These population declines have been attributed to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and human persecution. Within Indiana, timber rattlesnakes have been listed as endangered due to extensive population declines. Although previous work has been performed on the spatial ecology of this species within Brown County, no information exists on the effects of timber harvesting. This study will attempt to quantify the effects of timber management practices on rattlesnake movement patterns and habitat selection.

Beginning in May of 2007, surveys for timber rattlesnakes were preformed within core units where previous observations occurred. Nineteen snakes were observed as part of these surveys. A subset of captured rattlesnakes (6M:5F) were implanted with a radio transmitter and tracked 3 times a week throughout their active season. Radioed snakes are currently located on control and even-aged management units. All snakes were tracked to their respective hibernacula. The habitat selected by study individuals was quantified and will be compared to paired random habitat measurements. Data collected from 2007 will be used for comparison against post harvest snake radiolocations and habitat selection.


Project Investigator

Marc Milne, University of Indianapolis, 317-788-3325, milnem@uindy.edu

Arachnids are an important, yet understudied component of most forest communities. They serve as important predators of many invertebrate taxa and are components of avian and mammalian diets. Despite these key roles, the efforts of forest management on woodland spiders is largely unknown. Dr. Marc Milne aims to help fill that knowledge gap using the HEE study as his laboratory.Starting in 2015 through the next 10 years, Marc will 1) determine the diversity and abundance of spiders within southern Indiana hardwood forests; 2) determine how land use and timber harvesting regimes affect that diversity and abundance; and 3) determine how timber harvesting and prescribed fire interact to either promote or reduce arachnid communities. Sampling for spiders will occur year-round. There are a variety of methods that will be used. Handsampling is used to look through the leaflitter, on vegetation, and on the ground. Sweep netting uses a sweep net to collect spiders from low vegetation, while shrub beating using a beating sheet and stick to knock spiders off of higher vegetation. Pitfall trapping will be used as well; this involves digging a small hole (< 15 cm deep) and placing small cups (~250ml) into the ground. These cups are filled with either propylene glycol, a non-toxic antifreeze, or with soapy water. These traps are collected weekly. Finally, Berlese funnel traps will be used with field-collected leaf litter. In Marc’s lab, the litter is placed in a large funnel atop a flask of preservative; spiders tend to flee deeper into the litter, eventually falling into the preservative. 

Human Dimensions


Project Investigators

Shannon Amberg, Purdue University, ambergs@purdue.edu
Bill Hoover, Purdue University, (765) 494-3580, billh@purdue.edu

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