Scientist Eric Munscher, MS, will present a lecture on the plight of turtles worldwide and the efforts of his organization to save species on the verge of extinction, at the October 12 Studium Generale, held at 12:30 pm in Peninsula College’s Little Theater.
Munscher serves as a regional scientist with SWCA Environmental Consultants in their Houston, Texas office. He is a former student of Peninsula College Biology Professor, Dr. J. Brian Hauge. He studied tropical ecology and turtle population ecology with Hauge from 2000 to 2004 when they were both at Penn State University. Munscher earned his BS from Penn State and MS from the University of North Florida where he worked with diamondback terrapins. He is also the founder and director of the Turtle Survival Alliance – North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group (TSA-NAFTRG), a group of scientists and volunteers that monitors freshwater turtle populations at sites in the US, Canada, and Costa Rica.
TSA-NAFTRG focuses on species that are fairly common in habitats that are well protected. During his presentation, Munscher will highlight some of the research sites and the turtles found there. This research provides data on what healthy turtle populations should look like and detects changes in populations that could indicate environmental problems. The group offers opportunities for TSA members to take part in the sampling and processing of turtles, and attracts volunteers from across the US and occasionally from other countries.
In 2004, Munscher took charge of what was then a five-year turtle study in central Florida when Hauge moved to Port Angeles. Since that time, he has expanded the project to seven sites in Florida, three sites in Texas, and two sites in Pennsylvania. This year, both Munscher and Hauge are beginning their first turtle study in Washington. Other members of TSA-NAFTRG have additional sites in Tennessee, Ontario, and Costa Rica. The group has 18 years of data from the oldest site and continues to add new sites, usually at the request of managers and biologists working in locations such as state parks. They currently work with more than 20 species and capture more than 3,000 turtles annually.
For more information, visit TSA-NAFTRG at the TSA website. Go to turtlesurvival.org, click on Projects, By Region, United States to find information about the group and blogs from past field trips. The group can also be found on Facebook, under North American Freshwater Turtle Research Group.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information on Studium Generale, contact Dr. Kate Reavey at firstname.lastname@example.org .