Box Turtle Conservation in Residential Developments on Markham Hill
Box turtles are fascinating and charismatic animals that were once a conspicuous component of the wildlife of eastern U.S. forests, from Maine to Texas. Box turtles have a slow life history, meaning that they grow and reproduce slowly and typically live for decades as adults. Unfortunately, this slow life history makes it difficult for them to persist when faced with adult mortality and box turtle populations have declined dramatically in many portions of their range due to road mortality, habitat loss, and collection. However, the species also exhibits amazing resilience to persist alongside humans if suitable habitat elements are maintained and adult mortality is minimized.
We are fortunate in Arkansas to still have abundant box turtle populations in many areas, but Northwest Arkansas is also one of the most rapidly developing urban centers in the country. We are partnering with Specialized Real Estate Group to inform conservation of box turtles in a planned residential development on Markham Hill, adjacent to the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Specialized seeks to protect natural resources while meeting the housing needs of a quickly growing region. We are helping them achieve this goal by studying box turtles on the property to help avoid negative impacts on the population and enhance habitat suitability in the future. We are using radio-telemetry to monitor box turtle movements and habitat associations to guide preservation of important habitat elements and inform creation of ideal habitat in greenspaces and residential lots. Longer-term, we are excited to involve residents in citizen science research that uses box turtles as a flagship species to help us understand and conserve wildlife populations in residential areas of Northwest Arkansas.
Read More - Article Featuring our Research on Markham Hill