Department Chair

Dr. Daniel Potts, Chair and Associate Professor of Biology

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Biology, M.A.


Biology Department


Dr. Edward Standora, Professor Emeritus of Biology

Department Home page

First Reader

Dr. Peter Lindeman, Professor of Biology and Health Sciences at Edinboro University, PA

Second Reader

Dr. Chris Pennuto, Professor of Biology

Third Reader

Dr. Robert Warren, Associate Professor of Biology


Urbanization and degradation of riparian zones has contributed to the decline of fish and wildlife populations throughout the world. Northern Map Turtles (Graptemys geographica) in the upper Niagara River face similar declines due to shoreline development and the concurrent loss of backwater habitats and terrestrial nesting sites. A project was initiated in which basking/nesting platforms were created, and Northern Map Turtles from a Lake Erie population were translocated into the river. Resident and translocated turtles were tracked using biotelemetry and their habitat use, behaviors, and swimming paths were compared. Translocated turtles exhibited homing behavior and had longer home ranges than resident turtles. However, both translocated and resident turtles used similar swimming paths in the river, spent time in restored habitats, and used the Strawberry Island Complex when crossing to opposite shorelines. Water temperature, photoperiod, and turtle body mass may influence the change in activity level of Northern Map Turtles. Becoming active in the spring was more compressed temporally than brumation initiation but remained the same thermally. The basking/nesting platform deployed in the urban habitat was used by Northern Map Turtles for basking, but no nesting occurred. The strong water current velocity at the headwaters of the Niagara River, in conjunction with the Black Rock Lock, create a barrier between the river and lake habitats, and turtle populations in the river are isolated from their conspecifics in Lake Erie. The strong current may also funnel turtles from Lake Erie into a habitat at the headwaters of the Niagara River that is characteristic of an ecological trap. The lack of local reproduction and the asymmetrical dispersal of turtles was characteristic of a sink population, as well.