Natural Resources, School of



Larkin A. Powell

Date of this Version



Beard, A.N.; Powell, L.A. Drought Influences Annual Survival of Painted Turtles inWestern Nebraska. Diversity 2023, 15, 597.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license


Aquatic habitats in the Great Plains of North America have increased risk of droughts under climate forecasts. Droughts have the potential to influence the population dynamics of pond turtles, and long-term studies are useful to assess the impact of climatic variation on turtles. We compiled twelve years of mark-recapture data for painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) captured in a pond in Keith County, Nebraska during 2005–2016 that included two periods of drought. We used a robust design analysis to investigate influences on population size, annual survival, temporary immigration, and capture probability. Estimates of the annual population size ranged from 92 (CI: 90–94) to 180 (CI: 175–186) but did not vary with drought conditions. Despite a relatively stable depth of water in our study pond, the probability of annual survival was reduced by 0.07 in females and 0.10 in males during drought years. Approximately one-fifth (temporary emigration probability: 0.19, CI = 0.16–0.23) of the population was outside the study pond at any given time. Our long-term research provides insights into the potential challenges to turtles in aquatic habitats undergoing prolonged changes in long-term climate conditions.