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Dr. John Roe’s Research Shows Urbanization Reduces Turtle Survivorship

Dr. John Roe

Human populations continue to expand at the expense of natural environments and their native species.  Dr. John Roe and his colleagues used radiotelemetry to track individual Australian freshwater turtles (Chelodina longicollis) in a large suburban area and in an adjacent nature reserve of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia.  During the wet La Nina event of 2012-2013, they observed reduced survivorship of turtles in the suburbs, largely caused by vehicular collisions. This was in contrast to no difference in survivorship in turtles in the same environments during the dry El Nino event of 2006-2007.  As their data show, the interaction of climatic events and urban growth can affect turtle populations in important ways.  Dr. Roe’s research on C. longicollis was published in the peer-reviewed journal Urban Ecosystems, under the title “Urban hazards: spatial ecology and survivorship of a turtle in an expanding suburban environment.” Click here for a PDF copy of the journal article.

Dr. Roe has published multiple papers on reptiles, including a seminal paper on leatherback sea turtles that grabbed the attention of the BBC News and other media outlets.  Dr. Roe advises graduate students on other campuses, and during the last several years, he has advised numerous UNC Pembroke (UNCP) undergraduate students in research, focusing largely on habitat use and distribution of eastern box turtles (Terrepene carolina) of the Carolina sandhills.  Many of his students have been associated with the UNCP RISE Program or COMPASS.  Dr. Roe is actively involved in public outreach by way of research presentations and by leading educational programs, including programs at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve.

Dr. Roe joined the Biology faculty at UNCP in 2010 after completing a two-year post-doc at Indiana-Purdue University. He has a Ph.D. degree from the University of Canberra, Australia, a M.S. degree from Purdue University, and a B.S. degree from Davidson College.  An Associate Professor in the Department, Dr. Roe’s teaching duties largely include Field Zoology, Environmental Science, General Zoology, and Evolution.

Dr. John Roe holding a shingleback skink
Dr. John Roe holding a shingleback skink
(Photograph is courtesy of Alicia Brinton)

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