The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with support from Ecopetrol and the Santo Domingo Foundation, are studying Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle (Mesoclemmys dahli) in the tropical dry forest of Colombia, one of the most threatened ecosystems in the country. First, the research will focus on estimating abundance of the species across its distribution and identifying potential sites for developing conservation actions. Secondly, this project aims to enhance our understanding of the reproductive ecology of Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtle, in order to further improve the conservation strategy of this endemic and threatened species.
Researchers found 131 individuals of the species in 15 municipalities across six states that still harbor patches of tropical dry forests. Special attention was paid to the females, as the project aims to study reproductive characteristics of the species, such as the time period of pregnancies, location of nesting areas and number of eggs per nest. Females are examined using ultrasound technology and on the pregnant individuals a GPS device is placed, so they can be followed and their nesting sites identified. So far two nests have been identified, and more data is expected from two more pregnant Dahl’s Toad-headed Turtles who are carrying a GPS. Results from this study will help identify important areas that the species use during the reproductive phase of their life-cycle.