This research study will compile, organize, analyze, and summarize decades’ worth of NWPT scientific data in advance of the 2023 listing decision.
The research results will be presented in publicly available peer-reviewed publications and presentations.
The analysis of existing data
will attempt to address recovery actions from the 2019 draft Western Pond Turtle Range-wide Management Strategy, specifically:
Conduct distribution and abundance surveys of known, historical, and potential NWPT habitat, and demography surveys in targeted areas to determine long-term trendsScientific investigation of threats to facilitate and enhance recovery effortsAmeliorate and manage threats to NWPT populations and habitat, particularly in priority conservation areas.
Data will be entered into the most appropriate program (such as Excel, Access, or ArcGIS) to facilitate analysis and future data collection.
Existing files, folders, and other data will be digitized (in collaboration with USACE) and organized to the fullest extent possible to create a streamlined and logical digital file structure.
Renaming existing and naming new files will adhere to best practice standardization structure (e.g.
use of succinct names that identify date of creation, abbreviated description of file, etc.), and a document will be created that outlines naming and organization protocol for digital files, and the history of and issues encountered with data organization undertaken by the investigator.
Additionally, the investigator will develop a multi-year research study design on NWPT distribution, population densities, and habitat use that is prioritized between, and within each watershed.
The research study design will focus on filling data gaps that ensure long term WVP operations while developing guidelines to minimize negative impacts to turtles and their habitats.
The focus of this research will not be known until existing data are reviewed; however, some potential research areas include:
Identify the role WVP reservoir water level management (for flood risk reduction, for dam maintenance, or to satisfy the 2008 fisheries BIOP flow targets) plays in NWPT reproduction, life history processes, dispersal, habitat use, and/or population viability.Determine whether NWPT are successfully moving through dams, spillways, and other water control structures.
Understand the regional connectivity of NWPT populations upstream and downstream of dams.Create a strategy for NWPT genetic sample collection for future analysis of population genetic structure, including connectivity.Determine NWPT response to vegetation management treatments intended to improve aquatic or terrestrial habitat.
Define the threats that non-native species, such as red-eared sliders, bullfrogs, or largemouth bass, pose to NWPT recovery, and quantify NWPT response to invasive species removal programs.