Testing for Associations Between Boldness and Thermoregulation in the Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina

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Foster, Natalie
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University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
The study of animal personality in non-mammalian species is a relatively new and active area of focus in the field of animal behavior. Consequently, many factors and their mechanisms which influence personality are still being discovered. Previous studies have shown that box turtles exhibit consistent individual behavior and that their thermoregulatory ability may be connected to their personality. In this thesis, I attempted to determine whether higher shell temperatures were correlated with bolder personalities in the eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Behavioral and thermal data was collected from 15 turtles during the summer of 2020 in Rutherford County, TN. The turtles did demonstrate consistent individual differences and were classified as bold or shy. However, there was not a significant correlation between boldness and the turtles’ shell temperatures. This could reflect that turtles in naturally warmer climates do not need to expend much time and energy for behavioral thermoregulation, and, therefore, that boldness, as a personality trait, is uncoupled from thermoregulatory behavior. If correct, in more southern populations, boldness may have fitness benefits other than enhanced thermoregulation and the presumed higher growth rates.
College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Animal Behavior, Box Turtles, Boldness, Reptile, Animal Personality