ABS 2022
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Methodological Strategies to Reduce Bias in Orienting Testing of Terrapin and Sea Turtle Hatchlings
TriciaLyn Beamer1, Bethany Holtz2, Courtney Parks2, Gigi Hess2, Scott McRobert2. 1University of Miami, Miami, Florida, United States; 2Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

In an orientation experiment with terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green (Chelonia mydas), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) hatchlings, we examined the effects of habitation and holding time on activity level and movement. Habituation, when a hatchling explores the arena prior to testing, affected both the time and final location for terrapins in response to no stimuli and marsh sounds (time: no stimuli p< 0.05, marsh sounds p< 0.005; location: p=< 0.001). Final trial time decreased from 0, 2, and 4 minute habituation periods respectively. Leatherbacks presented with beach surf sounds and simulated moonlight habituated at 0, 2, and 4 minutes had no change in their final trial time or location (time: beach surf p=0.808, moonlight p=0.35; location: beach surf p=0.40, moonlight p=0.35). Holding time, the time between emergence and testing, and trial time had a weak positive relation in all species of sea turtles (Pearson r =0.089, p=0.05) but a weak negative relationship in terrapins (Pearson r =-0.095, p=0.062). Habituation and holding time impact testing behaviors of species differently and should be examined before formal experimentation.