Wood turtle study 2009 2010


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A short overview of the wood turtle ecology project I initiated in 2009.

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Wood turtle study 2009 2010

  1. 1. Wood Turtle Study 2009 - 2010<br />Natural history of wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) populations and recommendations for conservation management<br />
  2. 2. “Fred” – 20 yr. old male<br />This was the first wood turtle we found in 2009.<br />Only 3 of 16 wood turtles found at the main site in 2009 were male.<br />One of the questions we are working to answer is whether a small number of adult males is a problem.<br />
  3. 3. “You can’t see me”<br />Wood turtles cannot close their shells but pull their front legs in tight to protect their heads.<br />The bright orange coloration appeared common throughout the spring / early summer.<br />
  4. 4. A marked turtle from 1995<br />2009<br />Carving the date into the bottom shell has been common historically throughout the northeast.<br />The opportunity to find dated turtles is a unique feature of our study.<br />1995<br />
  5. 5. A turtle marked 30+ yrs. ago<br />This turtle is about<br /> 45 years old.<br />
  6. 6. The oldest wood turtle<br />This male is about <br />70 years old, based <br />on the wear of the<br />shell*, making him<br />the oldest wood<br />turtle we’ve found<br />In this study.<br />* Based on Michael T. Jones, 2009, Dissertation, University of Massachusetts.<br />
  7. 7. Photo I.D.<br />Each turtle found is photographed top, bottom, front, and back so that the health of the individual can be assessed later.<br />Photo: C. Volonte 2009<br />We keep a photo I.D. catalog allowing us to compare photos over time. <br />
  8. 8. Measuring Dome Height<br />Dome height is measured on each individual found, as is top/bottom width and length.<br />Measurements can be compared next season for growth.<br />
  9. 9. Job Hazards<br />Getting wet is one of the very few hazards associated with researching wood turtles.<br />However, we did learn a few things about finding bees nests in the first season as well!<br />Photo: S. Ludlow, 2009<br />
  10. 10. Turtle Tracks<br />Tracks in sand are a sure sign of recent turtle activity.<br />
  11. 11. Small female ~ 10 yrs.<br />This young female is in perfect condition. The 3D effect of the growth rings is striking and provides a fair estimate of the turtle’s age. The individual ages are recorded to help us judge the health of the population.<br />
  12. 12. Transmitter attached<br />The transmitter is held onto the upper shell by epoxy. <br />The epoxy does not injure the shell and can be pried off when needed.<br />The antenna is extremely flexible and does not appear to impede the turtle’s movement in any way.<br />
  13. 13. Radio-tracking<br />Habitat use is calculated by using radio-telemetry to located turtles.<br />The turtles are handled at the beginning of the season, and again at the end of the season, minimizing disturbance.<br />
  14. 14. Initial Data Habitat Use<br />The buffer line shown represents the NH 250 ft. Shoreland Buffer.<br />In the first season, we found that the turtles were outside that buffer nearly 50% of the time.<br />Incidentally, the stream shown is too small to qualify for Shoreland Protection.<br />
  15. 15. Summary<br />Initial data has shown that the wood turtles we tracked traveled outside a 76m buffer nearly 50% of the time. 76m is the current NH Shoreland Protection Zone for streams 4th order and larger.<br />That means that the wood turtles and their habitat have protection only 50% of the time.<br />It is an issue that can best be addressed locally – Conservation Commissions, conservation easements, and town warrants. <br />Photo: C. Volonte 2009<br />
  16. 16. Final Notes<br />This presentation is for educational purposes – to show local <br />Interested persons about the research process and to suggest how <br />they may become involved. Specific details of location and land <br />owners have been purposely left out of this presentation to further<br />protect the wood turtles in the study area.<br />Photos by Dan Zeh unless otherwise noted. <br />Funding for equipment is possible through grants from:<br /><ul><li>A.V. Stout
  17. 17. American Wildlife Conservation Fund
  18. 18. Chicago Herpetological Society
  19. 19. Swanzey, NH, Conservation Commission
  20. 20. Western NY Herpetological Society</li>