Western Pond Turtle Research
Our goal is conservation. We believe the path to achieving that goal is data-driven research and use of rigorous statistical approaches to address prominent ecological, environmental, and biological questions. Our company is unique in that its profits support our research program. Our research experience makes us better consultants, and our success as consultants propels our research.
Our western pond turtle research is also proudly supported by Curi-Odyssey.
Western Pond Turtles
Western pond turtles are the only native freshwater turtles on the western coast of the United States, and they are found mostly in ponds and creeks from Washington State to Baja California Norte, Mexico. They can grow to just over a kilogram, and their life cycle contains both aquatic and terrestrial stages. There has been concern about population declines and habitat loss and degradation for some time. In California, western pond turtles are considered a Species of Special Concern. Due to conservation concern, the western pond turtle was also named a SAFE species by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The IUCN classifies the western pond turtle as Vulnerable.
We began research in 2014, first examining behavior, and found a complex repertoire of basking behaviors and interactions. We proceeded with a capture-mark-recapture study, and were able to estimate population sizes for five previously unstudied Central California populations. We took data on ecosystem characteristics, species diversity, vegetation communities, and water quality, and were able to study their associations with demographic characteristics and life history traits as well as western pond turtle health, as explained by hematology and biochemistry profiles. Our findings highlighted the importance of the quality of juvenile development for the conservation of western pond turtle populations.
Current Projects and Future Research
We worked very hard for the last four years collecting data, analyzing data, and presenting our findings. We are currently writing up our findings for publication, but we are also planning ahead. We are working to continue our research through a long term monitoring program. Long term demographic data sets for freshwater turtles are rare and valuable, and our goal is to compile this data set for western pond turtles over the coming years, using the foundation we have already established. We also hope to use this data set as part of an interactive educational online platform. The goal is that the turtles' human neighbors can learn more about population dynamics, habitat preservation, issues facing the turtles, and (of course) how mathematics and statistics helps us figure out how to help these ancient animals.