Courtesy of Ltshears, via Wikimedia Commons
Turtle Roadway Mortality Study
Roads are directly responsible for the deaths of reptiles and amphibians in Massachusetts during seasonal migrations to nesting sites, seasonal migrations from uplands to breeding wetlands, movement between wetlands and thermoregulation (basking) on road surfaces. Causeways and other roads that bisect wetlands alter natural habitats by providing avenues by which invasive plants species can colonize wetlands and nesting areas, altering natural hydrology of wetland systems, altering storm water runoff and drainage, providing avenues for road salts and pollutants and the direct loss of habitat due to land-clearing and paving.
Roads also fragment and isolate turtle habitats by establishing a barrier to migration and the movement of individuals. They also tend to create habitats—grassy or sandy roadside shoulders, for example—that are attractive but dangerous to turtles, leading to an increase in road kill.
The Turtle Roadway Mortality Study aims to minimize the impact of roads and traffic on rare and non-game wildlife, while improving highway safety, through cost-effective research, planning, and implementation of partnerships with citizens and communities of Massachusetts. Citizen scientists are encouraged to contribute data about where turtles are most endangered by roadways and learn more about proactive efforts to protect turtles and other wildlife in Massachusetts.
- PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Tim Dexter and Mike Jones
- SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Massachusetts Department of Transportation and USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit
- DATES: Ongoing
- LOCATION: Massachusetts
- PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
- COST: Free
- GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
- TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
- HOW TO JOIN:
How to join: Citizen scientists can use information from the Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Web site to help them identify a study site. They should confirm their study site by contacting the project's coordinators. Once a site is chosen, the volunteers should plan to visit the site four times per year between the end of May and middle of September and then enter their field data using an online form.