New FTCT website, blog and update on activities.

We recently redesigned the organizational website which reflects a modern look and is now mobile device-friendly. The website now also features a blog that allows visitors to keep up with our projects and activities. Please do consider subscribing.

 Juvenile Suwannee cooter found during a survey of the Alafia River. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

Juvenile Suwannee cooter found during a survey of the Alafia River. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

Also, as many of you are aware, in early 2014 we initiated a study focusing on the distribution and status of the imperiled Suwannee cooter (Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis) in rivers within its southern range. We have steadily been working on this subspecies for nearly a decade and have documented anthropogenic threats they face such as human harvest and injury/mortality from boat strikes. We have recently completed the following two manuscripts.

Heinrich, G.L., D.R. Jackson, T.J. Walsh, and D.S. Lee. 2015. Southernmost Occurrence of the Suwannee cooter, Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis (Testudines: Emydidae). Journal of North American Herpetology 1:53-59. (click here for .pdf)

Walsh, T.J. and G.L. Heinrich. 2015. Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis (Suwannee cooter). Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review: (click here for .pdf). (new county record and new river record for the species)

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program awarded the FTCT a grant for $4,450.12 for a project titled “The Suwannee Cooter in the Alafia River: Determining the Distribution, Status, and Conservation Needs of a Disjunct Turtle Population.” This yearlong project is progressing nicely and to date, we have documented 27 localities for our distribution map. Completion of this fieldwork will allow us to determine an appropriate site on this river to begin a mark-recapture study scheduled to begin in spring 2016. You can read about a kayak survey we undertook in June on the Bruce Museum Science Department’s blog, www.storagetwo.com

 FTCT Executive Director, George L. Heinrich, documenting the first sighting of a Suwannee cooter in the Pithlachascotee River. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

FTCT Executive Director, George L. Heinrich, documenting the first sighting of a Suwannee cooter in the Pithlachascotee River. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

 We recently presented on the above work at the 13th Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles (6-9 August 2015, Tucson, Arizona; www.turtlesurvival.org). This is the joint annual meeting of the Turtle Survival Alliance/IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Specialist Group. Additional presentations on this work are scheduled for the following:  

30 September 2015: “The Suwannee Cooter (Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis) in the Alafia River: Determining the Distribution, Status, and Conservation Needs of a Disjunct Turtle Population” at Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium 6 (BASIS 6), University of South Florida St. Petersburg

20 October 2015: “Survey of Florida Rivers to Determine the Southern Distribution of the Suwannee Cooter” at St. Petersburg Audubon Society (Sunshine Center, St. Petersburg, Florida)

12 January 2016: “Survey of Florida Rivers to Determine the Southern Distribution of the Suwannee Cooter” at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (St. Petersburg, Florida)

 Pellets from Barred Owls packaged for later examination, along with turtle remains found near a nest. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

Pellets from Barred Owls packaged for later examination, along with turtle remains found near a nest. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

Additionally, we have continued our study on raptor predation of turtles in central Florida. Two species, red-shouldered hawk and barred owl, are the focus of this research. This information will contribute to further understanding the importance of turtles within the dynamics of food webs. The first publication is listed below. We continue to analyze material related to barred owl predation.

Walsh, T.J. and G.L. Heinrich. 2015. Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) predation of turtles in central Florida. Florida Field Naturalist 43(2):79-85. (click here for .pdf)

 

 Remains of ten turtle species found under a Red-shouldered Hawk nest in central Florida. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.

Remains of ten turtle species found under a Red-shouldered Hawk nest in central Florida. Photograph by Timothy J. Walsh.