Setting Up Your Study

Setting Up Your Study

Go back to the Data Collection Page

Refer to the how-to box turtle research manual, The Box Turtle Connection, for information on collecting data.


You need to name your Site (e.g., the name of your state park, nature center, neighborhood)

Examples of Site Names: Piedmont Wildlife Center, Fort Bragg, Lake James State Park, etc.


DSS = Defined Study Site

DSS Definition: an area with a well defined boundary that is usually smaller and falls within the boundary of your Site. It is a part of your Site that is repeatedly surveyed.

Purpose of DSS:

  • To help Project Leaders focus effort on a specific area within their Site
  • To be able to estimate population density at your Site
  • Can have one or more DSS within your Site
  • Should be based on where you (and your staff) spend most of your time

Criteria for choosing a DSS:

  • Is an area you are in frequently
  • Easily defined boundaries (roads, trails, rivers, creeks, obvious property boundaries, obvious habitat changes, ridgelines, etc)
  • Small enough that you are in all areas of the DSS at some point during the year
        – Size will vary for each of you
        – Size will depend on how much time you spend in this area and how much you hike/drive around in it

Example Maps of DSS’:

Example 1: Site Name: Falls Lake; DSS 1 (in light purple) and DSS 2 (peach colored). Note that some turtles were found outside of the Site

BTC_Falls Lake Data

Example 2: Site Name: Lake Raleigh Woods; Only has 1 DSS; the DSS is small and encompasses the entire Site (i.e., only a few turtles were found outside the Site). Yellow shaded area is the entire Site.

Lake Raleigh Woods

Possible Scenarios when you find a box turtle (see diagram below):

  1. Turtle is OUTSIDE your Site (e.g., outside the Lake James State Park boundaries): report turtle observation on Carolina Herp Atlas
  2. If Turtle is on the property of your Site, report turtle on Box Turtle Connection project (e.g., turtle is somewhere on the Lake James State Park land)
        – Scenario 1: Turtle is on Site property but NOT inside the boundaries of one of your DSS’
            — Report turtle on BTC project, but indicate that turtle was outside your DSS (e.g., on Lake James State Park land but not within the boundaries of any DSS).
        – Scenario 2: Turtle is on Site property AND inside the boundaries of one of your DSS’
            — Report that turtle is inside a DSS and give the DSS name (e.g., on Lake James State Park land and inside DSS #1).