Project Title: Blanding’s Turtles at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

Faculty Sponsor: Teresa Yoder-Nowak

Department: Biology

Telephone: 810.762.3360


Project Description: On 2 September 2012, twelve headstarted Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) were released at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS) in Saginaw, MI. Headstarting is a process of raising hatchling or newborn animals to an appropriate size or age for release, improving their chances of survival. In 2011, gravid female Blanding’s Turtles were collected from Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge as part of a joint effort to aid in their survival. Gravid females were induced to lay eggs and then eggs were incubated in captivity at The Detroit Zoo (Royal Oak, MI) and Herpetological Resource and Management (HRM; Grass Lake, MI) with support from Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. In 2012, we attached radio transmitters to the dorsal shell surface of twelve 1-year old headstarted Blanding’s turtles that had been notched and PIT tagged by HRM and Detroit Zoo staff. Turtles were tracked via radio telemetry twice per week until they entered brumation. Tracking twice a week will continue during the 2013 field season. Information collected about these small turtles will be used to help fill gaps in the understanding of juvenile Blanding’s Turtles’ habitat use and efficacy of headstarting turtles.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  Work with team of researchers to track via radio-telemetry headstarted Blanding’s Turtles; Work with team of researchers to remove and replace radio transmitters; Take appropriate measurements (mass, carapace length) of turtles when captured; Record incidental observations of Blanding’s Turtles.

Minimum Student Qualifications: BIO 111, BIO 113, and BIO 327; preference will be given to students in the Wildlife Biology Program; Students must have the ability to work under typical field conditions during spring, summer and fall in Michigan; Students must be able to work well with others. Most studies will be completed as part of a team of researchers; Students should possess good organization skills and must be reliable.