Citizen scientists invited to track turtles

Citizen scientists have a key role in a new project to save declining populations of the south-western snake-necked turtle.

Dwindling numbers of this semiaquatic freshwater species are due to a number of threats, including predators, road strikes and lack of sustainable nesting habitat.

A grant of $131,700 from Lotterywest will be used to train volunteers as ‘turtle trackers’ by ecologists from Murdoch University’s Harry Butler Institute, and a Turtle SAT app will monitor and record the native species.

The project will be led by The South West Group, an alliance of six local governments in the south west metropolitan region, working with Murdoch University researchers who are collaborating with a national consortium dedicated to conserving freshwater turtles across Australia.

The project team will also work closely with additional contributors such as Conservation Volunteers Australia and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and local governments across metropolitan suburbs.

The South West Group’s Natural Resource Management facilitator, Kathleen Broderick, said the Lotterywest funded project was a major step in the protection and recovery of this native turtle species.

“The team is looking forward to this opportunity to engage with citizen scientists on a larger scale by expanding the ‘Turtle Tracker’ citizen science program, and training community members in the monitoring of this freshwater species,” she said.

Murdoch University’s Dr Jane Chambers, Director of NatureLink Perth will oversee the community engagement component of the project.

Community members interested in this important conservation initiative can learn how to get involved by emailing the Saving our Snake-Necked Turtle (SOSNT) project team here.

Facts about the south-western snake-necked turtle click here.