Northern Map Turtle Nest Ecology Project

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Do you have property on Opinicon Lake where you know or suspect turtles are nesting?  If so, we need your help!


We are undertaking a study of Northern Map Turtles at two sister sites: one in urban Kingston, and one on Lake Opinicon.  We seek to learn more about the nesting ecology of this species of conservation concern and the factors that trigger hatchling emergence from the nest.  

Northern Map Turtles will sometimes emerge from the nest in the fall of the year they were laid, but also sometimes the hatchlings will overwinter in the nest and emerge the following spring.

We need interested and willing landowners to identify and protect nests at Lake Opinicon . What you would do:

  1.  Keep an eye out for nesting Northern Map Turtles. Note that they can take some time choosing a nest site.  Take a photo of the nesting female but do not disturb her.  Map Turtles may start nesting in late May, peak in June and may even nest into early July.
  2. When female has finished nesting, look for a wet nest spot and mark and cover the nest with a nest box provided by QUBS.  The nests can be very hard to see after they dry so you must be vigilant!
  3. Send picture of female and nest box location to MSc candidate Lesley Rudy at  Lesley will come to your property and put automated data loggers in the nest that will measure temperature and movement.
  4. If you like, you can watch the box in fall and spring for hatchlings and/or their emergence hole.
  5. Leave the cover undisturbed until collected by Lesley the following June or July.

About Northern Map Turtles

The Northern Map Turtle is named for the complex array of lines on its shell that are reminiscent of a topographical map with contour lines. Map turtles are large (carapace/shell length up to 292mm), have yellow striping on their heads and legs (but no red), are brownish in colour, and usually have slightly jagged marginal scutes (outside shell scales).Map turtles have striking sexual size dimorphism, with females attaining lengths twice that of males. The species is long-lived, and females mature around 10 years of age. This means that populations will recover very slowly if turtle numbers are diminished by road or boat mortality, poaching, habitat loss or disturbance, or myriad other factors. Northern map turtles are considered to be of special concern in Canada. The Lake Opinicon population is near the northern range limit and may be impacted by disproportionately impacted by changing climate.  

To learn more about the study and how you can help, contact Lesley at or Steve Lougheed at

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