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Road Ecology Center

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Hydrologic analysis of the wetland habitat of the federally threatened bog turtle

  • Author(s): Brennan, Kelly E.
  • O'Leary, Daniel J.
  • Buckley, Stephen P.
  • et al.

Protecting the natural environment while fostering local development is one of the main challenges that engineers face today. New species are added to the federally threatened and endangered species lists as their habitats are altered or destroyed by development. The bog turtle (clemmys muhlenbergii) is threatened by new development that damages not only its wetland habitat, but the upland areas that store and discharge water into the wetlands. The bog turtle is one of the smallest North American turtles with the adults reaching only 10 to 11 centimeters in length. They are a fresh water turtle that inhabits open wet meadows, shallow water marshes, spring seeps, flood plain wetlands, bogs, and fens. Destruction of habitat and illegal capture have caused significant declines in turtle populations. The bog turtle was listed as federally threatened in 1997. Protection of bog turtle habitat is a concern to many state and local governments because the bog turtle’s habitat is often located in prime land slated for commercial, residential, and transportation related development. Until recently, there was little information available about the source water that feeds these wetland habitats. The Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA), in conjunction with other Maryland and federal agencies, has formed a biological assessment team in order to develop a protection plan for one such bog turtle habitat by investigating the hydrology associated with bog turtle habitats.

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