Research suggests that turtle populations are declining and gender ratios are skewed as a result of urbanization. In particular, most turtle populations appear male skewed where anthropogenic disturbance has occurred. In fall 2012, we compared demographic trends in the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) in both a rural and urban pond setting near Plattsburgh, NY. An urban golf course pond complex (Plattsburgh, NY) was compared to a rural quarry pond and wildlife management area (Chazy, NY). We performed capture-mark-recapture on turtles using hoop traps. Turtles were marked by notching the carapace with a file using a typical 3 letter system. Gender was determined from length of foreclaw and age by size of the turtle. We found that the rural site contained more adults and more males. We found that there were more painted turtles in the rural as compared to urban areas, which may be due to lesser predation and road mortality risks. The results from this local turtle project will become part of a continental-scale survey of turtle population health. This information will help to inform developers, landowners, and biologists alike of the impact of urbanization (e.g., habitat loss, habitat split, habitat fragmentation) on persistence of turtle species.
Student poster, Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh