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Wildlife & Ecosystems

Freshwater Turtles of the Kimberley

What did two little-studied freshwater turtle species tell us about their fragile freshwater world?

Previously Funded Expedition

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Kimberley’s turtles are known to be important components of freshwater biodiversity and food webs.

Earthwatchers were among the first to study the turtles of Australia’s remote Kimberley region.

Because of their remote location, little is known about the Kimberley turtles, yet they are important components of freshwater biodiversity and food webs. This research targeted two species: the northern red-faced turtle (Emydura victoriae) and the sandstone snake-necked turtle (Chelodina burrungandjii).

Researchers began field studies of these turtles in 1999. With the help of Earthwatch volunteers, the project expanded to include determining the size and composition of the turtle populations, determining growth rates by mark–recapture studies, investigating feeding ecology to better understand the aquatic food web of multiple species during the dry season, monitoring the reproductive condition of the populations, determining the genetic history and extent of genetic isolation of the populations, and identifying threats to the conservation of the populations.

Volunteer measuring turtle

Determining growth rates through mark-recapture studies.

Information collected on these teams was crucial for estimating the turtle population and describing their age structure, population, and role within the freshwater ecosystem. The findings were vital to managing aquatic biodiversity in this region, particularly in response to the threat of a new and alarming invasion of cane toads.


About the research area

Kununurra or Broome, Kimberley, Australia, Australia & South Pacific

Daily life in the field

Itinerary

This is a summary:

The Scientists

MEET THE LEAD SCIENTIST

Nancy
FitzSimmons
Senior Lecturer in Biology, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra

ABOUT Nancy FitzSimmons

Earthwatch scientist Dr. Nancy FitzSimmons travels the world studying the population genetics of turtles and crocodiles.

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Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food

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