Turtle trapping: preliminary tests of conventional wisdom
It's been 40 yr since Cagle and Chaney (1950) stated that the first turtle to enter a trap could determine the nature of the total catch. They suggested that if it were a female, she would "attract males during the periods of sexual activity." On the other hand, if a large Chelydra entered the trap first, it would "often prevent others from entering" (Cagle and Chaney, 1950). These statements have been repeated by other investigators and are accepted as the conventional wisdom associated with turtle trapping (Plummer, 1979; Dunham et al., 1988). However, we are aware of no attempt to test such statements experimentally on an a priori basis. Ream and Ream (1966) noticed that different capture methods used in their study resulted in different size-class distributions and sex ratios. In what is perhaps the best-known a posteriori assessment of trapping methodology for turtles, they reported that "... turtles were attracted by the presence of other individuals to basking sites or in net traps" (Ream and Ream, 1966). The present study was undertaken to test experimentally whether the presence of Chelydra serpentina or adult female Chrysemys picta in turtle traps would affect the number of Chrysemys captured in the traps.
Frazer, N. B., J. W. Gibbons and T. J. Owens. 1990. Turtle trapping: preliminary tests of conventional wisdom. Copeia 1990(3):1150-1152.