The preservation of bog turtle metapopulation dynamics by a transportation improvement project in Southeastern Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is currently performing bog turtle radio-tracking and environmental compliance monitoring as required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion. Radio tracking of bog turtles was initiated in 1999 and will continue to one year post-construction, anticipated to be in 2006. The biological opinion for the project required the department to minimize direct and indirect impacts to bog turtles and critical habitat through innovative highway engineering design modifi cations, specialized containment fencing, and seasonal constraints for certain construction activities. Pre-construction provisions in compliance with the biological opinion include vegetation community mapping; ground water monitoring; invasive species management and monitoring; and bog turtle behavior and movement patterns. The research has confi rmed many of the natural history characteristics of the species cited in previous studies in the scientifi c literature. However, behavior and movement patterns previously undocumented have been recorded. Telemetry data from this transportation project continues to expand our understanding of this federally threatened species. Monitoring throughout construction of the project will confi rm if the implemented engineering design modifi cations have avoided and minimized potential impacts to the species metapopulation. This project is an example of a transportation undertaking that is designed and constructed in such a manner as to fulfi ll the project purpose and promote the conservation of a threatened species.