Department of Biological Sciences, NUS
“Bridging insitu and exsitu conservation with genetics and stakeholder engagement: a case study of the critically endangered Burmese roofed turtle (Batagur trivittata)”
Fatma Gozde Cilingir Ceyhan
Dept. of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Thu 11 Sep 2014: 4.00pm
DBS Conference Room 2 (S1 level 3, Mezzanine)
Supervisor: Asst Prof Bickford, David Patrick
All are welcome
Abstract: – Anthropocene defaunation has been taking place rigorously for 500 years, and turtles are one of the most endangered vertebrate groups suffering these effects. The endangered Burmese roofed turtle, Batagur trivittata, is endemic to Myanmar and has the second smallest wild turtle population in the world and is one of the least studied species.
There have been ongoing ex-situ conservation efforts for a decade, which led to a growth in the number of captive animals in Myanmar. The ultimate goal is to reestablish self-sustaining populations in their natural ranges. To achieve this, there is an obvious need for input from quantitative and multi-disciplinary approaches to formulate conservation management strategies.
This study has three phases, which aim to construct a strategic framework to “maximize conservation benefits while minimizing the risk of unintended consequences”. In the first phase I will study the conservation genetics of the Burmese Roofed turtle. I will construct reintroduction and assurance colonies by choosing individuals based on genetic indices, quantify the degree of genetic bottleneck experienced by the species, and conduct paternity analysis to shed light on the breeding ecology of this enigmatic species. In the second phase, I will conduct social surveys at potential release sites and evaluate the level of awareness and attitudes of local people towards turtle conservation efforts, aiming to contribute to conservation decision-making process and future conservation education schemes. In the third phase, I will build habitat suitability maps based on turtle nest location and use these maps to guide potential future field surveys and suggest a quantitative alternative for qualitatively assessed potential reintroduction sites.
Overall, I will study a broad spectrum of questions on the Burmese Roofed turtle, extending from genetics to reintroduction to fill the gap between ex-situ and in-situ conservation attempts. This multi-disciplinary approach will enhance current conservation practices of the Burmese roofed turtle and guide future conservation efforts for other endangered species.