Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spotted Turtle Research

Previously, we have posted on spotted turtles and Jacqueline Litzgus' research.

Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus, Ph.D. returned to the Lowcountry this week for the Turtle Survival Alliance's 2017 Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. She brought along some current and former Laurentian University students when she visited the old-growth swamp at the Francis Beidler Forest. Not only did Jackie want to revisit the site of her spotted turtle research (and marriage ceremony), she was hoping to locate one of her former subjects...and she did!

In her words:
That female spotted turtle we found is quite a special one!  I have my
PhD data on my laptop, so I looked her up when I got to my hotel room.
She is notch code 1R2L = 6F, and she is the same size and mass as she
was 17 years ago.  She was part of the mark-recapture study for 5 years,
2000-2004, I radio-tracked her for 3 years, 2000-2002, and she is the
first turtle I found nesting during my PhD research - see attached pics
- she is the one that taught me to look on the tops of rotten logs for
nesting turtles.  In 2001, she produced 3 clutches of eggs, which had
never before been reported for wild spotted turtles, so that prompted me
to publish the attached paper about multiple clutching in the species.
Unfortunately, all 3 clutches were eaten by predators that year.  But in
2002, I had the privilege to meet her 3 babies that hatched from her 1st
nest that year (she produced 2 nests, 2 weeks apart). 

(More from Jackie's perspective at Audubon South Carolina website)

6F's measurements - Image by Mark Musselman
6F's nest in 2001 - Image by Jacqueline Litzgus
6F's nest in 2001 - Image by Jacqueline Litzgus
Jackie Litzgus holding 6F on 8/5/2017 - Image by Mark Musselman
6F on 8/5/2017 - Image by Mark Musselman

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