Students tracking box turtles to learn the reptiles' habits

6:51 PM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- More than a dozen St. Louis area youngsters are learning how to track the beloved box turtle in an effort to educate the students about the reptiles' health and how the turtles get where they're going.

It's a pilot study designed by scientists with the St. Louis Zoo and Washington University to document the turtles movements in both rural and urban areas around metropolitan St. Louis. 

Along with the turtles living in Forest Park, other turtles have been tagged for tracking at the Tyson Research Center in Eureka.  All of the turtles have been equipped with 'thumb-sized' transmitters on their backs which allows scientists to find the turtles so they may measure weekly movements and take body weights of the turtles.

It's all part of an ecological study to better understand the box turtles use of the land and their health status in the St. Louis area.

The program was launched this spring as the participating turtles were coming out of their winter hibernation.  The specialized transmitting tags emit frequencies that are being tracked over the course of an entire year.

At the end of the study, scientists and participating students hope to compare their findings from the rural and urban settings and use them to develop a larger scale research program with the reptiles.

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