The Turtle Survival Alliance North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group
The Turtle Survival Alliance North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group (TSA-NAFTRG) is an undergraduate research experience/citizen scientist volunteer program directed by academic and non-academic professionals and committed to long-term turtle population monitoring. Spanning more than 20 years, this program is home to the 2nd longest ongoing study of turtles inhabiting a Florida freshwater spring system, and one of the largest long-term turtle population studies conducted in the United States. Today, TSA-NAFTRG conducts long-term studies through capture-mark-recapture to examine the population dynamics of species and species assemblages of turtles across 19 active study sites in Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. This initiative provides field volunteer opportunities for TSA members, serves as a training and outreach function, and produces peer-reviewed publications of its findings that can assist local, regional, state, and federal agencies with courses of action to protect wild turtles and their habitats.
Sustained efforts of the Turtle Survival Alliance North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group are important because turtles are long-lived organisms and provide a valuable ecological role in the environments in which they live. Defining life history traits such as survivorship, population estimates, density, biomass, and sex ratios in wild populations over long periods of time are critical to formulating and implementing turtle conservation and management plans, as well as detecting population declines or other trends. Through such long-term population monitoring, and with robust data sets, TSA and our partners can expand our scope into under-studied aspects of these species’ life histories, as well as provide informed, science-based recommendations to wildlife resource managers and other landscape stakeholders.
TSA supports Bog Turtle research and conservation efforts of Mike Knoerr and JJ Apodaca at multiple wetlands in North Carolina through the Bern Tryon Southern Bog Turtle Fund. This project performs Bog Turtle population research, assessments, and monitoring through the use of mark-recapture, eDNA technology, and innovative camera-trap design, population modeling, and works to increase Bog Turtle population sizes through maintaining electric fencing around nesting areas and locating and covering Bog Turtle nests with cages to safeguard them from predators, to prevent predation of the eggs.
Bluff City Turtles, City of New Braunfels, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Felburn Group, Flagler College, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Park Service, Freed-Hardeman University, Friends of the Wekiva River, Horse Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and Animal Refuge, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Jacksonville University, Memorial Park Conservancy, Nature Conservancy of North Carolina, Nonconnah Creek Conservancy, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Northeast Wood Turtle Working Group, Orange County Parks and Recreation, Partners for Bull Creek, Peninsula College, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Santa Fe College, SWCA Environmental Consultants, Tangled Bank Conservation, TC Energy, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, The County Line, theTurtleRoom, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Geological Survey, University of South Florida, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife