Monitoring Local Aquatic Turtle Populations

Since 1999, the herpetology lab has been monitoring semi-aquatic turtle populations at local farm ponds. Turtle traps baited with sardines are used to catch turtles during the fall, spring, and summer months. We have consistently captured the following three species:

Each turtle is marked with a three letter code (in the same manner as the box turtle monitoring project) and released. Since many turtles are routinely recaptured within the same season, they are given a paint dot that is visible for one to two months. This way, they are not returned to the lab for measurements more than once a season. Data spanning several seasons allows us to draw several conclusions about the capture frequency, population dynamics, and growth rates of these turtles. Long-term continuation of this study will allow detailed investigations of factors affecting the characteristics of turtles at individual and population levels. You can view the powerpoint (Long-Term Monitoring of Semi-Aquatic Turtles in the Western Piedmont of North Carolina) given at the North Carolina Herpetological Society Meeting by Kristine Grayson.

Many adventures have occurred while monitoring the turtle population. In the fall of 2000, Wrenn Martin and Ross Cocklin captured a snapping turtle weighing 53 pounds, a new state record. Since then RHINO (so named as his code is HINO) has been recaptured twice since it's original capture. During the fall of 2001, RHINO was captured by Kristine Grayson and David Stroupe along with a "smaller" friend. See pictures of their adventure.

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