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November 11, 2010

ULM biology professor helps conservation efforts in Illinois

ULM Biology Professor John Carr recently participated in the Illinois Natural History Survey on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign.

The special meeting of the Alligator Snapping Turtle Recovery Team of Illinois involved the regular team members, as well as several invited guest biologists, including Carr, who are familiar with the biology of the species.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources convened the one-day workshop for the purpose of exploring conservation actions for the species known by the scientific name of Macrochelys temminckii.

"The North American Alligator Snapping Turtle is considered endangered in Illinois," explained Carr. "Officials are considering the species for a reintroduction program, especially when considering there have been no records of it in Illinois since 1984. One of the reasons this species intrigues people is because it is North America's largest freshwater turtle."

Using a variety of scenarios, the team analyzed the characteristics of the species to explore how many turtles of particular ages would have to be released over a given time period for a reasonable chance at establishing a viable, self-sustaining population in Illinois again.

Carr is a long-term member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission's Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, with extensive experience working with the Alligator Snapping Turtle in Louisiana. Carr, who earned his doctorate in zoology from Southern Illinois University, guided a British Broadcasting Corp. film crew on a tour of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in late 2008. The crew had contacted Carr to capture footage of the Alligator Snapping Turtle, one of the lake's largest predators.

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