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Freshwater turtles choose preferred water temperature in lab tests

Laboratory research by WED and USGS Biological Resources Division scientists is providing new environmental detail about the large variety of turtles that live in North America’s freshwater streams and lakes. In research directed at defining aquatic stressors, the scientists tested 12 species of young turtles to determine their temperature preferences. Freshwater turtles thermoregulate by basking in air or warm water to elevate their temperatures to be able to function more effectively. The research found that after weeks of acclimatization in cool water (18 degrees Celsius), most species selected warmer water (27 and 33 degrees C), but avoided very warm water (36 and 39 degrees). Aquatic species preferred slightly cooler water than species that bask in warm water or sunshine as adults. There was no difference between the responses of hatchling turtles and yearling turtles. (Contact A.V. Nebeker, 541-754-4884; nebeker.alan@epa.gov)

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