Abundance and Distribution of Western Pond Turtles from North Fork Trinity River to Weitchpec, CA

$1,500 Awarded to Oshum O’Rourke in 2017

Western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) are a herpetological species of importance because of their status as a California state-listed Species of Concern and their potential listing on the U.S. Endangered Species List. They are also a long-lived (40-70 years) species, making them potentially more susceptible to declines in poor or degrading ecological and hydrological conditions.  With the help of a conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo, Oshum O’Rourke, a Biologist with the Yurok Tribe, studied the distribution and abundance of western pond turtles, along with the habitat characteristics of their basking sites along the Trinity River, a system with augmented water flows.  By illustrating the key differences in size and mating age associated with temperature and hydrological conditions, O’Rourke hoped to better inform the management decisions relating to water releases from the Lewiston dam and river restoration efforts.