Announcements from the Nov. 2021 Chapter Meeting

The Announcements
Key announcements include election of chapter officers and notice about dues. View the full set of November announcements by clicking here. As more activities open up, more volunteer opportunities are coming into the chapter calendar. Opportunities and contacts, websites, and other details are available in the announcements.

COVID-19 update: Chapter meetings are now offered in hybrid format . Masks and social distancing are required at the in-person meeting at Dallas College – Brookhaven. We’re tracking with CDC guidance and continue to encourage wearing masks indoors and social distancing. Details here.

We have posted a recording of the meeting here.

Highlights of the meeting
Congratulations to our 3rd Quarter Service Milestone achievers! 250 Hours: Karen Albracht, Paul Dolliver, Julie Fineman, Charles Hess, Cassey Llama, Alice Anne Perry, Amanda Pounds. 500 Hours: Frances Gonzalez. And special congratulations to Stephanie Varnum for her 4000 Hour milestone, including her President’s Lifetime Achievement Award and certificate from President Biden! Thanks to each of you for your valuable service.

This month’s camera roll featured a summary of NTMN activities for the year and images from the TMN Elm Fork kayak trip.

The Triumph of Texas Turtles

Many thanks to Carl Franklin for an engaging presentation on conservation, ecology, diversity, and natural history of the turtles of Texas. Carl serves as president of Texas Turtles and has over 26 years’ experience in turtle research and preservation.

Carl began with an overview of the important scientific work carried out by Texas Turtles. Their organization employs a wide range of field observation and collection techniques to assess and promote the health and safety of turtle populations in Texas. They are engaged in public outreach and education and also assist state agencies with conservation work and enforcement.

After laying this foundation, Carl led us through an extensive review of 25 of the 31 turtle species resident in Texas. He combined field anecdotes with beautiful, often surprising, photos from their research and enough life history and behavior detail to give a clear picture of each species.

Carl covered more detail than can readily be recounted; this compiles a few highlights. Much more information, including species notes and many of the presentation photos are available on their Texas Turtles website.
– Turtle teeth? Sort of. Babies have an egg tooth (carbuncle) to help them out of their leathery egg shells.
– Largest freshwater turtle: alligator snapper, Texas record 211 lbs.; also only turtle sporting a predatory lure; among most heavily poached
– Weak turtle laws: Louisiana still allows recreational take of one per day; Contrast to Texas’ ban on commercial turtle trade, its final step in 2018
– Declining diversity: western painted may go off Texas species list d.t. habitat loss; Many other species face habitat loss, death by automobile, effects of pet trade; Offset: less predation as human food source
– Only U.S. brackish water species: Texas diamondback terrapin
– Nowhere but Texas: endemics include Cagle’s map turtle, Texas map turtle; Texas cooter, (also Guadalupe spiny softshell); plus Mexico: Texas tortoise
– Oldest known three-toed box turtle: 104 years
– Most invasive: red-eared slider, while part of Texas is native range, these are highly invasive, e.g. U.S. west coast, also in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia

Going deeper: Extensive diversity resources at Texas Turtles
Texas Nature Trackers TPWD herp resources
More on all things herpetological – Society for Study of Amphibians & Reptiles

Thanks to our guests and members for participating in this month’s meeting. I hope all feel welcome at NTMN.

Take care,
Scott Hudson
President
North Texas Master Naturalist

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