Dr. Jennifer Mook, associate professor of biology at University of North Georgia (UNG) was awarded a $970 grant from the Greenville Zoo Conservation Fund for a turtle research project.
The overall goals of this research project are to document and identify turtle population for long-term population studies and to observe musk turtle features over time to better document dramatic changes using photographic documentation.
"Imagine a zebra morphing to look like an appaloosa with spots instead of stripes. Hence the interest in what is going on with the pattern switch. The different appearance actually resembles the loggerhead musk turtle, which is a different species from the musk turtle which is presumed to be changing its appearance," Mook said.
"Currently, loggerhead musk turtles are not found in the proposed research site based on population range maps, so this would be a new population of loggerhead musk turtles if that is what we discover is actually present rather than common musk turtles that have basically switched their stripes to spots."
The collection of this data will later be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
The research project will take place from September 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017.