Landscape effects on turtle road trauma

Bohner, Nadine
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University of Guelph

Roads in Southern Ontario have a detrimental effect on turtle populations. Due to complex habitat requirements and migratory movements, turtles are especially impacted by vehicular trauma. Past research indicates vehicular trauma is aggregated both spatially and temporally. For mitigation to be effective, it should focus on locations and times of concentrated trauma. This study used a geographic information system (ArcGIS) to map six years of turtle trauma data from the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, identify trauma clusters, and examine fine-scale landscape characteristics correlated with these clusters. Data for three turtle species (Emydoidea blandingii, Chrysemys picta marginata, and Chelydra serpentina) were combined with classified landscape imagery to analyze landscape pattern characteristics associated with trauma clusters by species, sex and season. By targeting locations with specific landscape characteristics and moments of peak potential, results can be used to guide species- and sex-specific mitigation efforts.

freshwater turtle, vehicular trauma, roadkill, land cover, hotspots, hot moments