Welcome to our blog where we will be sharing our experiences this summer as we work with the Lake County Forest Preserve District to assess Blanding’s turtle health!
As part of Dr. Matt Allender’s Wildlife Epidemiology Lab we have the opportunity to monitor and evaluate Illinois’ largest known population of Blanding’s turtles in a small area north of Chicago in the Lake County Forest Preserve. Throughout the summer we will be accompanying teams of biology and ecology field experts who are tracking turtles to monitor population range and have been positively impacting Blanding’s sustainability. Our objective is to further contribute to these conservation efforts by evaluating general health, infectious disease and potential health threats of the species. In addition to this evaluation, we will each be completing an individual project based on the data we collect from our turtle samples. Assessing endangered turtle health is new to us and we are excited to understanding and contribute to Blanding’s turtle conservation. We both just completed our first year at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and are excited to get out of the classroom and into the field!
Meet the Blanding’s Team:
Lauren Mumm is from Rogers, Minnesota where she attained her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of St. Thomas. Prior to veterinary school she developed her passion for animal health and conservation as a zookeeper (Como Zoo in St. Paul, MN) working with small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates and aquatic species. Lauren’s individual project will focus on characterizing and comparing the hematology of Blanding’s populations between two main field sites, one that has been observed in the past and one completely new and un-searched. She is excited to work with Blanding’s this summer to further develop her field work and laboratory skills while contributing to the conservation of a native species. And after all, the Blanding’s turtle is the unofficial state reptile of Minnesota.
John Winter is from Fort Myers, FL and recently graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in zoology and psychology. He has always been fascinated by exotic animals and has recently had several experiences like an ecology internship in Florida and an ecosystem health course in veterinary school that has led to an interest in ecosystem health. He is excited to be working in a slightly cooler outdoor environment this summer (the Sunshine State turns into a burning, moist oven in July) and is looking forward to finding some turtles! John’s project involves the comparison of pathogen presence between restored habitat and degraded habitat with possible time or other condition comparisons.
Continue to follow our blog this summer for updates on our research and more information about Blanding’s turtles!