Conservation Action

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, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

This initiative provides field volunteer opportunities for Turtle Survival Alliance 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 is critical to formulating and implementing turtle conservation and management plans, as well as detecting population declines or other trends. Through long-term population monitoring and robust data sets, the Alliance and its partners can expand the project 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.

Turtle Survival Alliance 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.

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Jordan Gray: [email protected] 

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Lead Partners and Supporters

Project Team

JJ Apodaca

Brian Butterfield

Jordan Gray

J. Brian Hauge

Tabitha Hootman

Michael Knoerr

Eric Munscher

Wayne Osborne

Joe Pignatelli

Andrew Walde

Andrew Weber