Turtle Conservation

Blanding’s Turtle
Research on the threatened Blanding’s turtle began in 1983 with the collection of basic population and habitat data in small wetlands in Dutchess County, New York (Kiviat 1988). A graduate student working with Hudsonia, the Nature Conservancy, and the State, created an artificial nesting habitat as a surrogate for a natural nesting area in a residential subdivision (Emrich 1991). This unprecedented experiment achieved success through subsequent efforts of the Nature Conservancy. In 1993 Hudsonia teamed up with microbial ecologist Peter Groffman of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and sampled soils and vegetation in Blanding’s turtle habitats to gain a better understanding of land use – habitat relationships, and design of landscape-level reserves (Kiviat 1997).

In 1996-97, Hudsonia designed a Blanding’s turtle habitat restoration project that included wetland habitats, upland nesting areas, and a one-way turtle barrier to keep the turtles out of a hazardous development site (Kiviat et al. 2000). Hudsonia received the Project Facilitation Award from the Society for Ecological Restoration in 1997 for this work. The turtle population and the habitats at this site have been continually monitored since 1996 by Hudsonia staff and volunteers.

Bog Turtle
In 1992 we analyzed the landscapes and habitats of the endangered bog turtle in eastern New York; previous work on this subject was conducted by Kiviat (1978). From 2012-2016, we analyzed how livestock grazing could be used to improve and/or maintain habitat quality for bog turtles (Kiviat et al. 2018).

Painted Turtles
While painted turtles are a common species and much is known about their use of non-tidal habitat, little is known of their use of tidal wetlands. From 2016 – 2018, Hudsonia and student collaborators studied and tracked painted turtles in Tivoli Bays (Bacon and Kiviat 2018, Caponera and Kiviat 2020).

Wood Turtles
Beginning in 2018, Hudsonia Ltd and Jason Tesauro Consulting LLC began analyzing the hazards posed by farm operations to wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta). This species, designated Special Concern in New York, lives in and near streams and rivers, and forages in riparian thickets and fields. While farms create non-forested habitats, ponds, and nesting areas, and help keep land out of more intensive uses such as residential development, wood turtles are frequently killed or injured by farm equipment and vehicles where fields are cultivated or hayed near the river. Data has been collected primarily by means of mark-release-recapture and radio-tracking wood turtles at the Farm Hub, as well as a second organic farm in the Hudson Valley. Telemetry field work is expected to continue at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub through 2022. We are learning that non-farmed buffers with a certain vegetational structure allow wood turtles to bask and feed with fewer forays into farm fields. We are translating this knowledge into recommendations for protection and management of stream buffers.

Turtle research has been conducted in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, State Office of Parks, Restoration, and Historic Preservation, The Nature Conservancy, American Museum of Natural History, the Wildlife Conservation Society, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program, Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Jason Tesauro Consulting LLC, and many local groups.

References:

Bacon, R. J. and E. Kiviat. 2018. Ecology of Painted Turtles in a Freshwater Tidal Marsh, Tivoli North Bay, New York. Section II: 1-29 pp. In D.J. Yozzo, S.H. Fernald, and H. Andreyko (eds.), Final Reports of the Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship Program, 2015. Hudson River Foundation.

Bell Travis, K., I. Haeckel, G. Stevens, J. Tesauro, and E. Kiviat. 2017. Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) dispersal corridors and conservation in New York, USA. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 13(1):257-272.

Bell Travis, K., E. Kiviat, J. Tesauro, L. Stickle, M. Fadden, V. Steckler, and L. Lukas. 2018. Grazing for Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) Habitat Management: Case Study of a New York Fen. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 13(3):726-742.

Caponera V. and E. Kiviat. 2020. Painted Turtle Ecology in a Freshwater Tidal Marsh: Concluding Survey. Section VII: pp.1-30. In S .H. Fernald, D.J. Yozzo, and H. Andreyko (eds.), Final Reports of the Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship Program, 2018. Hudson River Foundation.

Emrich, M. 1991. The creation of artificial nesting sites for the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii). M.S. thesis, Bard College.

Kiviat, E. 1978. Bog turtle habitat ecology. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 13(2):29-42.

Kiviat, E. 1980. A Hudson River tidemarsh snapping turtle population. Transactions of the Northeast Section, the Wildlife Society 37:158-168.

Kiviat, E. 1988. Time and the Blanding’s turtle. News from Hudsonia (Summer):1-6.

Kiviat, E. 1993. A tale of two turtles; Conservation of the Blanding’s turtle and bog turtle. News from Hudsonia 9(3):1-6.

Kiviat, E. 1997. Blanding’s turtle habitat requirements and implications for conservation in Dutchess County, New York. P. 377-382 in J. Van Abbema, ed. Proceedings: Conservation, Restoration, and Management of Tortoises and Turtles, an International Conference. New York Turtle and Tortoise Society.

Kiviat, E., G. Stevens, R. Brauman, S. Hoeger, P.J. Petokas & G.G. Hollands. 2000. Restoration of wetland and upland habitat for Blanding’s turtle. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(4):650-657.

Stone, W.B., E. Kiviat & S.A. Butkas. 1980. Toxicants in snapping turtles. New York Fish and Game Journal 27(1):39-50.

Hudsonia, a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation of the State of New York, classified 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service, relies on the generous, tax-deductible contributions from members of our community to sustain our research and education. We appreciate your support of our work.

Donate