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UNG biology student spends summer tracking turtles

Jessica Martin
University of North Georgia (UNG) senior biology major Jessica Martin is holding a receiver and antennae, which are both pieces of equipment for radiotelemetry, to locate the Eastern box turtle in a wildlife area in Gainesville.

One University of North Georgia (UNG) ecology class and lab spent tracking turtles and studying their habitat hooked the interest of UNG senior Jessica Martin.

Now, the 19-year-old Alpharetta woman is part of an undergraduate research project at UNG that studies the home range and habitat use of 21 Eastern box turtles, which are vulnerable for extinction, in Gainesville.

"It seemed really fun, and I was looking for a research opportunity," said Martin, who is a biology major with a secondary education certification. "I always liked animals and that was a draw as well."

Martin also configured the research project into a presentation and hands-on activity for middle school campers during Citizens Scientist Week at Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville this summer.

"We put transmitters on stuffed turtles and hid them," she said. "Then we walked into the forest and used radiotelemetry to find them. The campers recorded the temperature and collected other data. It was really a mock trial of what we actually do."

Amy Bradford, community relations manager and Camp Elachee director, said Martin acted professionally at the center, but made it fun for the campers, too.

"They loved it and thought it was cool," Bradford said.

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