Survey of Blood Borne Parasites on a Community of Turtles in LaGrangeville, NY
Ava Farrell, Vassar College, ’16, Lindsay Charlop, Vassar College ’16, Marvin Corleto, Vassar College ’19 and Prof. Marshall PregnallThough plentiful in the Great Lakes region, the Blanding’s turtle only sparsely populates upstate New York. Populations of Blanding’s turtle are important for healthy wetland ecosystems, and help draw public attention to the protection of wetlands and wetland species. This study contributes to a larger effort to conserve the health and fecundity of the Blanding’s turtle population in the Arlington High School wetland complex through an assessment the degree to which individuals are affected by blood parasites. We find that the population is affected predominantly if not exclusively by Haemogregarina, at an average parasite-to-cell ratio of 4.46 x 10-4 (± 1.67 x 10-4). We further find that cohabiting painted turtles carry significantly fewer Haemogregarina. In Blanding’s turtles, heightened blood parasite levels and other forms of decreased immunocompetence have been correlated with environmental degradation. Therefore our results may indicate a response to a climatically abnormal year, to recent construction on the wetland complex, or other environmental and anthropogenic stressors.