Inaugural Spring-Summer QUBS Seminar 2021

5 May 2021 7:00PM

2021 QUBS Seminar Series

Event Date: May 5th 2021    |    Event Time: 7 PM EDT

Event Location: Online via Zoom
We are excited to announce our inaugural 2021 QUBS Seminar Series!  All events will be delivered via Zoom.

On May 5th 2021 @7pm EDT we look forward to two talks with Lesley Rudy and Meg Britt, MSc candidates in Dr. Stephen Lougheed's research team (Queen's Professor of Biology & Environmental Studies and QUBS Director) presenting the results from their studies on Northern Map Turtles and Spring Peepers, respectively.  

Each talk will be followed by a question and answer period. Please register and join us!

You will be sent the zoom link following submission of your registration.

Nest and hatchling phenology of the Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica) near its northern range limit

Bio: Lesley Rudy is an MSc candidate in the lab of Dr. Stephen Lougheed in the Biology Department at Queen's University.  Lesley is a mature student who came to pursue her Master's after years working in stewardship, granting and other fields.  She is a volunteer with the Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour's turtle project which inspired her thesis research.

Talk Abstract:  Turtles are arguably the most threatened order of vertebrates, yet we still know surprising little about the ecology and annual cycle of most species across their respective ranges. This is also true of the eight turtle species that occur in Ontario, all of which are considered at risk. My Masters thesis focused on one of these species, the Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica), for which we have limited data on nest phenology from only two locales in the USA.  Hatchling emergence from the nest is not a straightforward product of time since oviposition, varies among species, and is not well understood. Map turtle hatchlings have been shown to be capable of overwintering in the nest, but do not always do so. I investigated the emergence phenology of an urban population of Northern Map Turtles near the northern limit of the species range to better understand the ecology of the species as a whole , and these local populations specifically. I sought to answer two broad questions: 1. What are the rates of survival and timing of emergence of hatchlings? And 2. What proximate and ultimate factors might contribute to emergence timing?  I found, protected, and installed loggers in 61 Northern Map turtle nests in 2018 and 2019 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and nearby rural locations near the Queen’s University Biological Station. I compared emergence timing to nest temperature, air temperature and rainfall. The overall survival rate was 70% and 65% for overwintering clutches.   25% of clutches emerged in the fall and 75% of clutches remained in the nest over winter. I found a difference between fall and spring emerging nests in the nest temperature as well as in the nest-air temperature difference over 48 hours. I also found that winter nest temperature when below -8°C impacted the survival of overwintering clutches. Most notably, I found that the amount of rainfall over 48 hours predicts emergence. I found some evidence of a latitudinal trend in proportion of fall versus spring emergence in temperate North American turtles implying adaptation or plasticity in response to local environmental conditions. These findings help fill the gaps in the understanding of this species phenology and will help us to be better able to appreciate and conserve them. 

Male advertisement calling tactics in northern and southern populations of Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer)

Bio: Meg is also an M.Sc. candidate in Stephen Lougheed’s lab in Biology at Queen’s University. Her primary interests lie in “uncharismatic mini-fauna” that are easily overlooked, particularly in at-risk habitats. 

Talk Abstract: The evolution of reproductive isolation is the foundation of species formation but identifying the factors that underlie this process can be challenging. Reproductive isolation can arise because of ecological divergence or direct selection on traits associated with the mating system; however, these drivers are not mutually exclusive, and one may influence the other. Populations of a species that are geographically isolated often display divergence in behavioural characteristics, as is evident in my focal species, the spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), a widely-distributed North American treefrog. Male spring peepers in the northern portion of the species’ range exclusively call from ground-level within breeding aggregations, whereas individuals in populations on the southern portion of the species’ range tend to call from arboreal perches. I tested whether mating call perch site selection in spring peepers and patterns of sound degradation relate to seasonal changes of vegetation structure and environmental factors between northern and southern habitats using acoustic playback experiments in Ontario and Florida.