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SCCF Presents at Global Turtle Conference

August 12, 2022

From the humid, flat landscape of Southwest Florida to the hot, dry, mountainous terrain of Tucson, two Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation researchers traveled to Arizona last week to share their work on non-marine turtles on Pine Island Sound among the world’s top turtle biologists and researchers.

Chris Lechowicz, director of wildlife and habitat management, and Mike Mills, wildlife biologist, attended the 20th Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Tucson from Aug. 7-11.

From left: Chris Lechowicz, John Iverson, Mike MillsThey presented lectures on their research on ephemeral turtle species found in Pine Island Sound, including the Florida mud turtle (Kinosternon steindachneri) and Florida chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia chrysea).

The symposium — hosted by the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and IUCN/SSC Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group — is the largest meeting of biologists, researchers, and educators concerning non-marine turtles in existence. Researchers from over 30 countries came to present their research and share ideas and experiences with other colleagues concerning conservation and research techniques concerning non-marine turtles and tortoises. 

Lechowicz’s talk, “Habitat Preference, Seasonal Activity and Movements, and Morphology of the Florida Mud Turtle on Barrier Islands in Southwest Florida,” explored Sanibel’s rarest and most cryptic turtle species.

Mills’ presentation, “Seasonal Movement and Reproductive Observations of Chicken Turtles,” focused on SCCF’s Florida chicken turtle research. Both Lechowicz and Mills gave the only talks on these two species, and their sessions were highly anticipated and well-received.

Lechowicz and Mills are pictured here with John Iverson (center), an expert on musk and mud turtles.

The researchers were able to share ideas and get advice from many well-known herpetologists on their projects, as well as answer questions and give recommendations to grad students and early-career researchers. SCCF’s participation in such conference is important for sharing our data to the broader research community, building partnerships and collaborations, and keeping up with new techniques, legislation changes, and grant opportunities.


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