Field Trip

Turtle Conservancy’s Maurice Rodrigues, James Liu, Max Maurer, and Christian Maurer (right to left in photo above) participated in a local turtle survey. Masters student Thomas J. Duchak and Dr. Russell L. Burke (both of Hofstra University) are continuing a long-term (since 1998) study of a Wood Turtle population in New Jersey.

The study site is a mosaic of upland and wetland habitats bordering a meandering stream that supports a diverse range of charismatic North American mammals, such as black bear, bobcat, coyote, red fox, raccoon, skunk, otter, mink, fisher, opossum, white-tailed deer, beaver, woodchuck, and porcupine. Eight turtle species have also been documented at this site, including Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta), Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata), Bog Turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina), Musk Turtles (Sternotherus odoratus), Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina), and even the non-native Red-earred Slider (Trachemys scripta).

The purpose of our outing was to collect additional mark-recapture data on the site’s Wood and Bog Turtles. Analysis of mark-recapture data allows us to answer questions about the annual survival rates and long-term movements of these turtles and to assess the demographic composition (sex ratios and age classes) and long-term viability of their populations. Information obtained from this and similar studies is needed for a better understanding of inter- and intra-population variation that can be used to formulate region-specific conservation and management plans for wood and bog turtles in the near future.