The ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) is currently coordinating the implementation of an innovative research project on the Blanding’s Turtle in the Outaouais. This project aims to test new inventory methods using environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis and drone monitoring. The Ministry therefore wishes to develop other methods for monitoring the Blanding’s turtle population.
This research project is made possible thanks to funding from the Government of Quebec’s budget measure on the protection of endangered species (Economic Plan of March 2018), which enabled the MFFP to sign a $ 65,000 agreement with the University of Quebec in the Outaouais (UQO). The project also received financial support from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada and the National Capital Commission (NCC).
The Blanding’s Turtle is a species designated as threatened under the Quebec Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species. Its recovery plan, published in March 2020, aims to maintain or improve the condition of its habitats and populations. It is therefore necessary to obtain an estimate of the size of the populations of the species and to set up long-term monitoring in order to assess demographic trends. Traditionally, the tracking method used has been to capture individuals with fyke nets (conical fishing nets mounted on circles). The goal of the research project is to verify the effectiveness of the eDNA collection and analysis method for detecting the presence of the Blanding’s Turtle and evaluating its abundance in various sectors of the Outaouais. The component on the drone inventory will, for its part, assess whether similar results can be obtained by counting turtles on images taken using this device.
Ultimately, therefore, the goal is to determine what is the most effective method for monitoring Blanding’s turtle populations. This project is taking place in the Outaouais because, according to the current state of knowledge, the main range of the species in Quebec is limited to a single population, namely that of the Ottawa Valley and the Parc de la Gatineau.
Various experts and partners from the MFFP, UQO, the NCC and Gatineau Park, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada will join forces to complete this research.
To report the presence of turtles in Quebec, visit the website carapace.ca.