World Turtle News, 05/12/2019
Petticord explores a Kenyan ecosystem one tortoise at a time
As Princeton senior Daniel Petticord was conceptualizing his thesis on animal movement in the African savanna, he could have chosen to study elephants, zebras, giraffes, impalas or any of the iconic animals that inhabit central Kenya. He chose the ubiquitous leopard tortoise.
“I’ve always been a ‘dig around in the dirt and look for reptiles’ kind of person, so that was a good jumping-off point,” said Petticord, an ecology and evolutionary biology major receiving a certificate in environmental studies. “I really wanted to study snakes, but my adviser told me that the problem with snakes in Africa is that they’re all either really, really fast, or really, really venomous, which are two excellent reasons to not study snakes.”
Choosing the leopard tortoise, however, extended beyond Petticord’s fascination with the small and scaly. He wanted to explore how overlooked organisms like the leopard tortoise fit into global-scale dynamics such as climate change and ecosystem health. For his thesis, Petticord found that drier conditions on the African savanna brought about by climate change could promote the spread of a livestock disease and an invasive plant species, both of which are carried by the humble leopard tortoise.
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This Week In Turtles…
Fly in for sea turtle rescue!
A amily-friendly event on May 18 to learn more about how pilots are helping save hundreds of endangered sea turtles each year! 9 am-3:30 pm, Location 93 Old Colony Road, Marshfield, MA
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Photo from James Lorget.