Tracking box turtles in Southwest Florida

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A Florida SouthWestern State College class is searching for the elusive Florida box turtle in hopes of learning more about its behavior.

“We are tracking box turtles to help us determine population status, home range, and a variety of other questions about their ecology and life history in Southwest Florida,” said Jordan Donini, a professor at FSW.

Thanks to radio telemetry, Donini and his students can find turtles they’ve placed transponders on.

“As I say to a lot of folks, it’s kind of like playing advanced ‘Marco Polo.'”

They also keep an eye out for new turtles in a scrub environment.

“Turtles, in general, are of conservation concern. There’s a large percentage of turtles throughout the world that are facing threats mostly related to humans,” Donini said.

Those threats include overdevelopment and poaching, which is why they keep their location private.

“Southwest Florida is so intertwined with its nature. I mean, we live right next to the Everglades, we have the Gulf Coast right next to us. It’s important for people, not only just students, but just as citizens to be pretty aware of what’s happening and be conscientious of it,” said student Adrian Rodriguez.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is interested in the research and conservation of box turtles as they’re considered a vulnerable population.

Donini feels his efforts will help.

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