Freshman Scholars Program 2013

Population Structure of Pond Turtles and Relation to Urbanization

Instructor:  Todd Fredericksen, Ph.D.

Project Description:

One student interested in wildlife and/or conservation biology. The two faculty members and students working on Dr. Stevens's project and Dr. Fredericksen's two projects will work together as a research group.

Urbanization can profoundly impact freshwater turtle populations. High road density near nesting sites may selectively increase mortality of adult females, leading to a male-biased population. The high density of predators that often exist in human-dominated landscapes may reduce juvenile recruitment and cause an adult-biased population. To determine if the population structure of freshwater turtles follow these patterns across a large-scale urbanization gradient, over 30 faculty and their respective students at 26 institutions extending from Massachusetts to Oklahoma initiated in fall of 2012 a mark-recapture study of turtles inhabiting lentic ecosystems. The research was conceived, organized, and operated through the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN). Ferrum College is participating in this project for the second year, and the student will collect data on the age and gender structure of aquatic turtles that will be the basis for further analysis of the effects of urbanization on the population structure of aquatic turtles. Data will be collected this summer using baited hoop traps placed in two ponds on campus. The student will gain practical experience in wildlife capture and handling, mark-recapture techniques, and data analysis.

The student will search the primary literature on the conservation biology of aquatic turtles. In order to conduct a two-day trapping cycle twice per pond, the student will need to set and check traps, and process captured turtles each day during the Freshman Scholars Program. The student will present a poster on the capture data.


Todd Fredericksen, Ph.D.

Todd Fredericksen is Associate Professor of Forestry and Wildlife in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Ferrum College in Virginia. He teaches courses in forestry, wildlife, ecology, natural resource management, conservation biology, and natural history. His research interests include the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on biodiversity, natural history and conservation of animal species in the Blue Ridge Mountains, tropical and temperate silviculture, and forest regeneration ecology. He has served as an editor for the journal Forest Ecology and Management since 2007 and serves on the editorial boards of three other scientific journals. He is currently President of the Virginia Natural History Society.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. Fredericksen directly at TFredericksen@ferrum.edu.

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