Turtle Research in
A Florida Aquatic Preserve


The Eckerd College Department of Biology in St. Petersburg, Florida does freshwater turtle sampling five times a year in Central Florida's Aquatic Preserves under the direction of Professor Peter Meylan.

On a typical sampling day, with me in tow, Dr. Meylan and his team may bag 135 or more turtles of all sizes and species over a four-hour period of time.

They inspect each turtle, weigh and measure them, scan for any already inserted chips, insert a tracking chip in those turtles that don't have one, document their findings and then release them back into the river at the end of the day. Adult female turtles are additionally X-rayed at a local veterinary office to determine the presence and viability of any eggs.

The inserted chip allows the team to determine changes in size, weight and health of caught turtles that have been previously bagged and evaluated by them.

NOTE: Dr. Meylan's studies in several Florida springs environments document changes in turtle populations over extended periods of time in heavily used recreational sites like the Rainbow and Ichetecknee Run.

Much can be learned about the environment in question by identifying changes to turtle populations, according to Meylan. Scattered patches of river grasses and/or the wholesale loss of river grasses significantly impact turtle populations, as does the presence (or lack) of basking logs which turtles require for body temperature regulation. Aquatic preserves like the Rainbow River could benefit from retaining as many of these basking logs as possible, perhaps even adding to them.

Noncommercial harvesting of freshwater turtles (including illegal poaching) accounts for the presence of fewer and smaller female species. Females are typically larger and are therefore especially vulnerable to poaching; in particular P. concinna floridana, the river cooter. People harvest turtles for food.
















See this brochure from the Central Florida Turtle Research Group

Florida's Turtles, Lizards, and Crocodilians: A Guide to their Identification and Habits [book]

The FLORIDA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY has some great links about amphibians and reptiles -- not to be missed!

Turtle Facts for Kids is a great tutorial for all ages

Explore the Difference between Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins

The Florida Cooter

The Florida Softshell

The Complexities of Turtle Hibernation

Slides of Freshwater Turtle Anatomy

Florida's Freshwater Turtle Harvesting Rules



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