ABS 2022
Behavioral Misinformation on the Internet Affects Conservation Management of the Box Turtle. 
Richard Buchholz, Richard Raspet. University of Mississippi, University , Mississippi, United States

Habitat destruction leads to more frequent encounters between humans and wild animals that may move between remaining habitat fragments. Small, slow-moving species, such as the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), may be "rescued" by well-meaning people concerned about the survival of individual turtles. Because this species is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable to extinction, and loss of even a few adults is known to negatively impact population viability, management decisions about the fate of rescued box turtles is of critical importance to their conservation. Therefore, we assessed the scientific validity of the behavioral information about box turtle movement ecology that potential rescuers can find on the internet. In this presentation we present occurrence statistics for a dominant internet meme claiming that because box turtles show strong site fidelity, translocation of rescued individuals will cause them to wander endlessly. We identify the fallacy of this meme through a synthetic review of the published scientific literature on box turtle movement ecology, and also provide direction for future studies that are needed to inform box turtle management.