Human perceptions, attitudes and knowledge shape the urban environment. Cities globally have replaced the natural habitat with one to suit human needs. Native species that have managed to survive this change have adapted to the new environment (e.g. Racoons in North America) or are reliant on remnant habitat patches (e.g. freshwater turtles in a wetland). Species survival is dependent on the range and quality of resources available but can also be affected by direct interaction with humans.
This study investigates Chelodina colliei, the only native freshwater turtle species in Perth, Western Australia. Like many other wetland species, this turtle’s habitat is isolated in a sea of urban sprawl. Through the investigation of the size and distribution of C.colliei’s populations, and the use and resources available in and around anthropogenic and natural wetlands, we were able to identify key factors that affect their survival. Surveys of residents indicating how, when, why and where humans interact with this species, enabled us to identify the positive and negative impacts of human activities and behaviours on turtles.
By understanding human-turtle interactions, resource availability and urban hazards, sustainability of turtle populations can be promoted through environmental restoration, modification of the built environment and by improving human appreciation of local native species. This fresh approach to exploring the urban ecology of C.colliei allows us to ascertain how local-scale human interaction can influence the survival of turtle populations and to build a holistic picture to inform freshwater turtle conservation and management within the urban ecosystem.