Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northwest

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kimhack
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Joined: November 15th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northwest

Post by kimhack » November 27th, 2017, 12:19 pm

Hello,

I am an intern at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Toxic Cleanup Program. One of our contaminated sites provides habitat for two native turtle species, the Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) and the Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii). Part of the remedy for this ponded area may include dredging or capping with clean fill. We’ve reached out to local experts and have gotten great feedback, but are still looking for additional information about turtle overwintering habitat. We are looking for more specific information on overwintering habitat needs and preferences such as sediment particle size/type, burrowing depth, organic content of sediment, compactness/hardness, etc.

Thank you for your time and thoughts!

Kim Hack, Oregon DEQ Intern

Richard F. Hoyer
Posts: 569
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Re: Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northw

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » November 27th, 2017, 1:33 pm

Kim,
One of the more knowledgeable individuals on the W. Pond Turtle would Dr. Bruce Bury. retired USGS biologist of Corvallis. I suspect you many have already been in touch with Dr. Bury.

Am I correct in assuming any of the remedial actions you mention would take place when the river is at its lowest level in the summer months?

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

Richard F. Hoyer
Posts: 569
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Re: Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northw

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » November 27th, 2017, 1:41 pm

Kim,
More questions here. If you have researched all of the published literature on the two species, more than likely the information therein would be the best available.

Can you divulge what was the contaminate or contaminates, where it occurred, and how large of an area is believed to have been contaminated?

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

kimhack
Posts: 3
Joined: November 15th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Re: Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northw

Post by kimhack » November 28th, 2017, 10:32 am

Hello Richard,

Thank you for your interest! I will contact Dr. Bruce Bury about this as he seems like a wonderful source of information. The remedial actions will be occuring during the in-water work window (June 15th - September 15th). Do you have any feedback for that?

The area in question encompasses 23.2 acres and includes East Whitaker Pond part of the Columbia Slough Watershed system. The chemicals of concern for this site are chromium, copper, lead, PCB 1254, and zinc. Let me know if you have additional questions about that. More information can be found here: http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/ECSI/ecsi ... eqnbr=5455

Much thanks!

Kim

Jimi
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Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

Re: Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northw

Post by Jimi » November 29th, 2017, 2:57 pm

Dr. Gary Packard was (is???) a physiologist at Colorado State U whose main study organism was (is???) western painted turtle (he was pretty old when I was in grad school there, which has been about 15 years now). He did a ton of work on eggs & embryos, and also on overwintering questions ("how do they not die of cold?" "how do they not die of low oxygen?" etc). I suspect his inquiries would provide some answers you need. I think his study sites were mainly out in Nebraska, but...needs are needs. Probably what varies, is the behavior required - or sufficient - to fill the needs. Behavior = how deep they bury themselves, what sorts of sediments they would seek out, etc. Stuff you're asking, you see.

I don't know if he did much contaminant work, but the mechanisms by which those are problematic would be well understood by a physiologist.

If you do get to talk with him...well, personally, I kind of found him to be sort of a hard-boiled dick. But he sure knew his stuff. Wow, impressive. I think he was just bored with teaching, and loved his research. He created a lot of knowledge. It's worth a shot to try and speak with him (if he's even still alive). If nothing else, look up his work.

Good luck.

Oh, just thought of another guy who'd be fun to talk with - Whit Gibbons at UGA/SREL. He's old as dirt now too, but has done a lot with turtles, some in a contaminated setting (understatement). Give Whit a holler. I think he's still with us. Hope so...

cheers

Richard F. Hoyer
Posts: 569
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm

Re: Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northw

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » November 29th, 2017, 9:35 pm

Kim,
I am not in any position to provide feedback on either species of turtle let alone the affects of those contaminates on aquatic wildlife including those turtles. Hope it all turns out well.

Richard F. Hoyer

kimhack
Posts: 3
Joined: November 15th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Re: Turtle Overwintering Habitat Needs in the Pacific Northw

Post by kimhack » November 30th, 2017, 8:58 am

Thank you Jimi and Richard!

Jimi, I'll reach out to Dr Gary Packard and Whit Gibbons- the suggestions are much appreciated.

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