Featured Research Project: Spotted Turtles

Biology majors Lily Bonar ’24, Neil Boyles ’26, and Tori Hinkle ‘24 are all researching spotted turtles in southwestern Ohio this summer under the direction of Associate Professor of Biology Richard Phillips.

Wittenberg University biology majors Neil Boyles, Lily Bonar, and Tori Hinkle at their research site. Click on photo or here to view complete photo gallery.

“Lily, Neil, and Tori are all answering questions about where spotted turtles are in southwestern Ohio, how many there are, and how they use habitat in fens,” Phillips said. “We think spotted turtles are in trouble, and the data we are collecting are meant to help with whether they should receive federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. We are also interested in determining population abundances at sites where we do find turtles. Lastly, we are using radiotelemetry to examine movements of turtles in these isolated populations.”

Phillips has let Bonar, Boyles, and Hinkle run the show this summer. The trio recently finished trapping and is currently analyzing data and tracking the turtles. Below is what they shared about the experience.

Lily Bonar“I am a commuter student, but I chose to do research this summer because I wanted to continue my project, which I started last summer. Also, I have taken several classes with my research advisor, and I immensely enjoy working with him. The best part so far is working in these various wetlands that are habitats to diverse ecosystems. In the process, I have learned that while I possess good field experience, my skills in using statistical programs are lacking. I chose this research because it heavily resembles what I want to do in the future, which is to be a wildlife research technician.”

Lily Bonar, Class of 2024
Hometown: Urbana, Ohio
Major: Biology
Minor: Math

Neil Boyles“I chose to stay on campus because being able to do research after only my first year of college is an uncommon and valuable opportunity that will certainly set me up for success in the future. The best part of this experience is the privilege of working with and handling these turtles. Since spotted turtle populations in this area are likely in danger, it feels like our study is important and is going toward the species' survival.”

Neil Boyles, Class of 2026
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio
Major: Biology

Tori Hinkle“The best part has been doing hands on work in the field surveying spotted turtles. I chose this research because I am interested in the conservation part of biology, and surveying spotted turtles shows how much their population is decreasing.”

Victoria “Tori” Hinkle, Class of 2024
Hometown: Miamisburg, Ohio
Major: Biology

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