Anni Auge, originally from Leipzig, Germany, is in the Environmental Life Sciences PhD program at Trent University studying movement behaviour and ecophysiology of Blanding’s turtles.
Blanding’s turtles are endangered in Ontario, with one of the main threats being habitat destruction.
Anni is studying the movement and activity of a population in Kanata, Ottawa.
This area is currently experiencing a lot of change due to urban development.
She hopes that her research will answer not only what influences turtle movement and behaviour, but will also give an indication of how human disturbances and mitigation measures such as artificial wetlands and nesting areas affect turtles.
She is tagging turtles with GPS transmitters and accelerometers. GPS data will show fine-scale location and movement data, and accelerometers will show turtle activity.
Although Anni’s research is in the early stages, she has found out that turtles move between 9km and 23 km in 4 months, with females moving more than males due to the need to find nest sites.
Thankfully, exclusion fences in the area help keep turtles (mostly!) off the road and they use culverts to cross them.
Newly built habitat was not really used by the turtles, since it likely needs at least one year for vegetation to grow on it.
Reptiles are among the most threatened species and are very vulnerable to habitat alteration.
The more we know about what affects their habitat use and behaviour, the better we can manage populations that are in close to areas that are being transformed due to human development – such as highways and roads. Remember folks – break for turtles!
Anni says that Trent is a perfect university and surrounding to study anything wildlife and environment related, where you don’t lose the big picture, with the opportunity to apply your studies.
Thanks for sharing your research with us, Anni!
We look forward to learning more about this important topic.
Keep up the great work!