Model Spotlight: Developing species distribution models for Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) in Atlantic Canada

The wood turtle, Glyptemys insculpta, is listed as threatened federally in Canada and provincially in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

• Thomas Baker, Karen Beazley, and Lisa Doucette

The wood turtle, Glyptemys insculpta, is listed as threatened federally in Canada and provincially in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Historic surveying for G. insculpta in these provinces has been arbitrary and geographic knowledge gaps persist. To address these gaps, Thomas developed species distribution models for NS and NB using Maxent software, G. insculpta occurrence data, and environmental data relevant to the species’ ecology.

These models indicated that important environmental variables for predicting G. insculpta distribution included ‘Elevation’, ‘Distance to Alder’, and ‘Watercourse Density’, among others. The model outputs were applied to field-survey planning in 2021 and 2022, resulting in new G. insculpta occurrences at twelve sites across NS and NB.

Model details:

Field Description
projectName Species Distribution Model Development for Wood Turtle in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
projectDate 2020-2022
projectPartners Dalhousie University, NS DNRR, NB DNRED, NCC, CARP, MTRI
primaryContacts thomasbakerns@gmail.com
projectDescription SDM for wood turtle in NS and NB, and targeted survey effort
projectDocumentation  
province NS NB
studySite NS NB
geographicExtent NS NB
modellingApproach Maxent SDM
modellingSoftware Maxent
modelGrainSize 250
productDescription 250m rasters predicting relative probabilities of occurrence of wood turtle across NS and NB
dataSensitivity sensitive
dataUseRestrictions to be determined, output sharing with reputable organizations likely possible but dependent upon data sharing agreements with relevant provincial departments (NS DNRR and NB DNRED)

Photo by Thomas Baker.