Despite freshwater turtles being a significant component of freshwater vertebrate communities in south-eastern Australia, little is known about their demography in southern Victoria. Their responses to habitat modification and other environmental disturbance have not been well studied. This study examines the demography of freshwater turtle populations in the Melbourne region and attempts to gain an understanding of some of the potential impacts of urbanisation.
The project will help to assess population structure using data on marked individuals at sites distributed along an urban-rural gradient. Marked individuals that are recaptured over time provide longitudinal data that can be used to estimate demographic parameters such as survivorship and population size. Taking measurements of a turtle's size and weight will enable an assessment of body condition within a population, which can be compared with other populations.
Meet the Scientists
Dr. Andrew Hamer
Ecologist, Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology
Dr Andrew Hamer began his interest in herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) when he was just five years of age. He spent many hours chasing frogs and reptiles in suburban creeks, ponds and bushland near to where he was raised in Newcastle. Andrew completed a PhD at the University of Newcastle where his research focussed on the ecology of the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea. He has published extensively on frog ecology, including aspects of habitat use, life history, demography, spatial dynamics and the impacts of invasive fish and agrochemicals on frog populations. His research contributed to a wetland restoration project and the management of bell frog populations in New South Wales. More recently, Andrew has published review papers on the ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles in urban areas, as well as research papers on frogs and reptiles at sites around Melbourne. Andrew is currently engaged in broad-scale field surveys for the Growling Grass Frog Litoria raniformis in Melbourne to determine the environmental factors that enable populations to persist in urban environments.