“Long live the wood turtles!” is both a cheer and a fact
In 1990, Forest Service researchers from the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station initiated a study of wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) in northeastern Minnesota. Twenty-five years later, members of the original research team joined with new team members and collaborators to revisit the original study site, replicate original surveys, recapture some of the same turtles marked in 1990, and analyze old and new data. The combination of a large amount of suitable habitat and limited human exposure on predominantly public ownership in northeastern Minnesota has likely allowed this population to avoid many of the stressors impacting populations in other regions. A recaptured turtle originally marked in 1990 revealed a new longevity record for oldest wood turtle in the wild: 55 years! Air temperature was an important predictor of survey-specific detection probability, with maximum detectability at 19-23 degrees Celsius (about 66-73 degrees Fahrenheit). Comparing population surveys from 1990 and 2015, the team found no evidence of a wood turtle population decline in northeastern Minnesota over the past 25 years. To improve future monitoring efforts, the team developed, tested, and published a new survey and analysis design for wood turtle population monitoring across the Upper Midwest.
Forest Service Partners