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Kathleen Chow - Terrestrial Ecology Lab/Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

High School Teacher - South River High School

My primary goal this summer was to gather data to address the issue of "transient" box turtles.  Our contention is that box turtles have a definite home range and normally do not live a transient life-style.  However, much of the available literature on box turtles refers to transient turtles.  We believe that they are just not easily seen.  In response to this, Ten turtles (5 adult and 5 juvenile) that have been previously seen two or three times in previous study years were equipped with transmitters and were tracked by telemetry 2 to 3 times a week (my responsibility).  I gathered and recorded data to use to establish a potential home range for each of these turtles, and to compare with previous random sightings of these turtles before telemetry and to compare with sightings of "frequently sighted" turtles in the sanctuary.  I am also collecting data in the microhabitat of these same 10 turtles in hope of discerning patterns or preferences of these turtles and possibly addressing the issue of why they have not been seen frequently in the last 10 years of study. 
 Part of my responsibility was to collect physical data on turtles sighted during our study.  Much of this data is used to assess the age range of the Jug Bay turtle population and assess the reproductive potential/health of the population.  For my  curriculum project, I will be incorporating population and ecological studies of box turtles.  In particular, I am developing an activity in which students collect measurements of turtles, from a simulated population  (old shells)- record and graph the data and make generalizations about the age range of this population.  Students will compare this data with data sets from actual box turtle populations in Jug Bay, and Eggmont Key (Ken Dodd's data)  and possible other populations.  Students will then interpret the data based on background information about box turtle populations and niche and evaluate the overall reproductive health of the population. We will then look at human interference factors, (collection for pets, habitat destruction, and road kill) and predict the implications that these could have on this or other populations and their reproductive potential.

Funding provided by the National Science Foundation - Research Experience for Teachers