Research Webinar: Understanding Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera) Nesting Habitat Selection in Vermont

There is a growing need for conservation and management of turtles due to alarming declines in populations worldwide. Habitat loss has been identified as the leading cause of such declines in the Americas, and changes to shoreline habitat in Vermont has led to declining populations of nesting turtles along Lake Champlain. The spiny softshell is one such species, which now nests in only 4 locations in Vermont and is estimated to have fewer than 300 individuals remaining. Our research focuses on turtle nest site selection with the hopes of identifying factors that make for ideal nesting sites. Insights from our study will help decision-makers, non-profit conservation groups, and private landowners understand the value of shoreline habitat parcels for spiny softshell nesting success, help them prioritize parcels for management, conservation, or restoration, and identify restoration activities that could improve nesting habitat quality. 

Destini Acosta is a wildlife biologist focusing on conservation, typically related to amphibians and reptiles. She received her B.S in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Penn State and is now pursuing her Masters at the University of Vermont, where she is advised by Drs. Brittany Mosher and Jed Murdoch. Destini’s research focuses on the nesting ecology and conservation of freshwater turtles of Lake Champlain.