The New York Turtle and Tortoise Society presents

Seminar 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012
Check-in 9:30 a.m.; Sessions 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

The Arsenal, Central Park, 5th Avenue at 64th Street,
New York City

More than 80 people attended Seminar 2012, held in the third floor Gallery in the Arsenal in Central Park. This full-day event featured in-depth presentations by David M. Carroll, Alison L. Whitlock, and Peter C.H. Pritchard.

Peter C.H. Pritchard

Alison Whitlock

David M. Carroll

Suzanne Dohm, NYTTS President

A good crowd at Seminar 2012

Alison Whitlock giving her presentation
Photos by Anita Salzberg

Scheduled Program

Morning Session (10:00 a.m.–12:00 a.m.)

Welcome and Announcements

David M. Carroll with Wood Turtle

Photo: Laurette Carroll

David M. Carroll
Naturalist and Artist, Warner, New Hampshire

“Seasons of the Turtles in New Hampshire Wetlands”

     Focusing on his observations of spotted, wood, and Blanding’s turtles, David Carroll’s presentation will cover their seasonal activities throughout the year as he has followed them for some four decades in a wetland-upland complex in south-central New Hampshire. The scenario traces their course through the seasons, as they emerge from hibernation in late March or early April and migrate outward to seasonal activity centers such as vernal pools; then on though nesting, summer activity, and hatching; and finally their return to hibernation late in the fall. He will discuss habitat parameters of a wetland mosaic and upland elements as they apply to these species, highlighting conservation considerations as well as the need to move beyond conservation to preservation.

     Naturalist-artist David M. Carroll, who in 2006 was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, is the author of three acclaimed natural histories: The Year of the Turtle, Trout Reflections, and Swamp-Walker’s Journal. This “wet-sneaker trilogy” was expanded to a quartet with the publication of Self-Portrait with Turtles. His fifth book, Following the Water, a Hydromancer’s Notebook, earned a National Book Foundation Finalist Medal in nonfiction.

     A graduate of the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University, David is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of New Hampshire and an Honorary Masters in Environmental Science from New England College. He has conducted investigations for the Endangered Species programs of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service. His fieldwork has been published in scientific journals, including Chelonian Conservation and Biology and Northeastern Naturalist. David and his work have been the subject of numerous articles and interviews, and his artwork has been widely exhibited. He is an active lecturer and turtle and wetlands preservation advocate. Awards received include an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. EPA and the New Hampshire Audubon’s Tudor Richards Award. See Web site:

— Lunch —

Afternoon Session (2:00–5:00 p.m.)

Alison Whitlock with bog turtles

Photo: Julie Larsen Maher, Wildlife Conservation Society
Alison L. Whitlock
Bog Turtle Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

“Recovery of the Federally Threatened Bog Turtle”

     The northern population of the bog turtle was listed for protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act in 1997. Since then, state and federal agencies have partnered with many non-governmental organizations and private entities, including many landowners, to work towards recovery of this species. Dr. Whitlock will summarize the ecology of this species, describe the threats it faces, and review recovery and research efforts to date. She will also discuss the challenges inherent in working with a species that has highly specific habitat needs and a very low reproductive rate.

     Alison Whitlock received her Ph.D. in 2002 from the University of Massachusetts with a dissertation on the Ecology of the bog turtle in the Northeast. She has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1998. For her first five years of federal service she worked with the National Wildlife Refuge System, planning protection efforts through land acquisition with a focus on the bog turtle in New Jersey and New York. Since 2005 she has been a wildlife research specialist within the Wildlife Restoration Program where she has administered research and habitat restoration grants for endangered species, including bog turtles, throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Whitlock was named the regional recovery coordinator for the bog turtle.

Peter Pritchard with Australian snake-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) at the Chelonian Research Institute

Photo: Allen Faust
Peter C. H. Pritchard
Director, Chelonian Research Institute, Oviedo, Florida

“Latest Developments from the Galápagos”

     After several centuries of collection, utilization for food, scientific study, taxonomy, and other abuses, one would have thought that all was now known about the famous tortoises of the Galápagos.

     Not so! The last few years have seen extraordinary change, as well as new opportunities and good news. The press recently gave great attention to the possibility of the Floreana Island tortoises, extinct since Darwin’s time, are living on (at least in the hands of geneticists), while, at the other extreme, it appears that the Volcan Wolf tortoises, generally known as Chelonoidis becki, are nothing more than a near-shore hybrid swarm, whereas the actual count of tortoises on this volcano is much higher than previously supposed.

     The famous Lonesome George, the last Pinta tortoise, is not the only repository of Pinta tortoise genes. A new tortoise species has been identified on Santa Cruz; the Chatham tortoise is thought by geneticists to be very close to the Santa Cruz animals, whereas the morphologist can tell the two apart at 50 paces, and the same holds true of the now famous aplastados—the huge, flattened tortoises of Cerro Azul, which has been ignored by the geneticists. For more background on Peter Pritchard’s work in the Galápagos, see Summary Report of Galápagos Expedition, December 2008, and for a more general overview see “Extinct” Tortoise May Just Be Hiding.

     Peter Pritchard, one of the world’s foremost experts on turtles and tortoises, is the Director of the Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo, Florida. The Institute houses one of the largest collections of turtle specimens in the world. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Oxford and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida, where he studied marine turtles with Archie Carr as his major professor. Peter has written eight books about turtles, the most recent a semi-autobiographical work entitled Tales from the Thébaïde. He has studied turtles in many parts of the world, and for several decades has operated a field station in Guyana for protection of nesting marine turtles. Currently, his main activities involve turtles and tortoises in the Galápagos Islands and in eastern Asia, as well as the administration and operation of the Chelonian Research Institute. See video of the Chelonian Institute below.

A Hero for the Planet ~ A brief tour of the Chelonian Research Institute in Oviedo, Florida
From, A Hero for the Planet

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