Northern Map Turtle Project


By Joe Pignatelli

This summer TSA's North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group started conducting a new research initiative in New Jersey. The study in New Jersey was developed not with the focus of protecting any one particular species, but rather to gather baseline data on all turtle species occurring in the state; allowing researchers to better understand the turtle populations and to help identify potential threats to their long-term survival.

Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has asked the TSA to assist them in collecting genetic samples on Northern Map Turtles (Graptemys geographica) in the state. Currently, map turtles are believed to be an introduced species to NJ, while others suggest they are native, or have naturally migrated here. The state hopes to take genetic data from these turtles, compare these genetics to other populations, and determine how the species came to inhabit the state's waters.

If you're reading this newsletter, there is a good chance that you're aware that turtle populations are declining worldwide. In fact, you may even know that some species of turtles are the most critically endangered animals on the planet. The best way to achieve this goal is with educational outreach, implementing conservation actions, and continuing long-term population research.

If you're interested in finding out more about this work in the continental United States, or volunteer in the Northeast please email TSA-NAFTRG Director Eric Muncher or visit