The Wood Turtle. Photo: Pete Oxford

Wood Turtle

Wood Turtles are a globally-endangered turtle primarily distributed in Northeastern North America that depend on large landscapes with healthy rivers and undeveloped uplands for survival. They represent a genus that includes only them and the equally-threatened Bog Turtle, so it represents a unique portion of turtle diversity. Their reliance on clean, well-oxygenated, streams also means that they are a good indicator of the health of riparian ecosystems.

As a long-lived species with low fecundity (reproductive rate), Wood Turtles are especially susceptible to mortality and disturbance. Therefore, probably the greatest threat (as with most species) is habitat alteration, particularly along watercourses. Development along streams not only eliminates natural habitat, but any addition of roads presents a potential significant source of mortality. Wood Turtles may be able to coexist with agricultural development based on their preference for early successional habitats, but they are often killed by farm equipment in fields. Finally, Wood Turtles are extremely attractive turtles and are often targeted by the pet trade even though collecting Wood Turtles from the wild is illegal. Therefore, illegal collection is also a conservation concern.



Related Information

Great Northern Forests

The Great Northern Forests are one of the last wild places in the Northeastern United States where Northern hardwoods meet boreal forests.

Northeast Kingdom

Characterized by undeveloped stretches of wilderness, the Northeast Kingdom is where Northern hardwoods meet the southern reaches of the boreal forests.

Vernal Pools

Vernal pools are extremely important temporary wetlands for amphibians and are where adults go to breed and where their young develop.