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Turtle habitat study offers UNI students hands-on research opportunity

August 18, 2014

Jeff Tamplin, professor, Department of Biology, 319-273-2327,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- University of Northern Iowa biology professor Jeff Tamplin has been named the principal investigator of a $60,000 grant sponsored by the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and disbursed through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Tamplin and a field team of UNI students record ecological data on the North American wood turtle, an endangered species in Iowa. The field team uses radio telemetry to track turtle locations and to assess habitat usage, home-range size and movement patterns. The data will be used to develop species management policy for local and state conservation agencies. Radio transmitters are glued onto the shell of the turtles, which allows the researchers to locate individual turtles. The transmitters yield up to nine years of data collection and are removable.

The $60,000 grant is part of the USFWS's State Wildlife Grants-Competitive Program, which awarded approximately $494,000 for a collaborative project that includes turtle habitat restoration and monitoring work in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. UNI's portion of the grant will support Tamplin's research on the ecology and population structure of this species. Since 2003, Tamplin and his research team have recorded more than 3,000 locations of wood turtles in Black Hawk and Butler counties and have marked 117 turtles for future identification.

For more information about this grant, contact Tamplin at 319-273-2327 or

Turtle reseachers at work