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Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report

Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report

Snapping Turtles

Snapping Turtles Hatching Success and Deformity Rates Data was collected from 2002 to 2004 within the Niagara River AOC at Lyons Creek East and found the following results relating to hatching success and deformity rates of snapping turtles. 90 The following figure shows the mean hatching success (SD) of snapping turtle eggs collected from Lyons Creek in the Niagara River AOC (dark shaded bar) and various sites in the Great Lakes basin including other AOCs from 2002-2004. With the exception of Algonquin and Tiny Marsh, sites are ordered from west to east. Means are based on number of clutches collected at each site (range=4-31). 91 Overall, hatching success of snapping turtle clutches varied significantly among the Great Lakes study sites (Figure 14). Figure 14: Mean hatching success of snapping turtle eggs However, the hatching success of snapping turtle clutches collected from 2002 to 2004 within the Niagara River AOC at Lyons Creek East was high relative (mean 91%) to some other Great Lakes sites, and was similar to the reference sites Tiny Marsh (86.0%) and Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary (88.4%). The following figure shows the mean deformity rate (SD) of hatchling snapping turtles collected from Lyons Creek East in the Niagara River Area of Concern (dark shaded bar) and various sites in the Great Lakes basin including other AOCs from 2002-2004. With the exception of Algonquin and Tiny Marsh, sites are ordered from west to east. Means are based on number of clutches collected at each site (range=4-31). Deformity rates of hatchling snapping turtles also varied significantly among the Great Lakes study sites (Figure 15). Similarly, deformity rates were similar between those from the Niagara River AOC (mean = 6.7%) and the Tiny Marsh reference sites (11.3%), but were lower than the deformity rates from the Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary (18.3%). 90 A review of the current status, trends and distributions of Aquatic Wildlife in the Niagara River (Ontario) Watershed by Kim Hughes, 2009 91 de Solla et al. 2008 54

Niagara river remedial action plan stage 2 update In addition, of the 25 adult snapping turtles captured from Lyons Creek East, none were found to have deformities 92 . Deformities recorded included missing or extra marginal, dorsal or lateral scutes. Lyons Creek was the only AOC in which no deformities were recorded in adult turtles examined 93 , whereas deformity rates were 7.0% and 11.8% at Tiny Marsh and Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary, respectively 94 . These estimates are conservative since all animals which exhibited evidence associated with a possible injury (e.g., missing nails, bent tail, etc.) were excluded from the assessment. Figure 15: Mean deformity rate of hatchling snapping turtles. 92 While reductions in reproduction and alterations in development of snapping turtles have been found in some Canadian Great Lakes AOCs, these were not evident in snapping turtles from Lyons Creek East where hatching success was high (91.0%), and hatchling deformity rate was low (6.7%) and both were statistically similar to the upstream Tiny Marsh reference site. In addition, no deformities were found in 25 adult snapping turtles examined from this site in 2002. While subtle physiological effects such as differences in clinical chemistry parameters have been reported in snapping turtles from Lyons Creek compared to reference sites 95 , there have been no linkages between these measures and health effects such as alterations in growth, survival and reproduction. We cannot discount the existence of these alterations, but they were not obviously apparent or among those measured in this study. The delisting target of no exceedances in the frequency of deformities and impaired reproduction of snapping turtles from the Niagara River AOC relative to suitable non-AOC reference sites was met, as there is no evidence of population level affects to the turtle populations. 92 de Solla et al. 2008 93 de Solla et al. 2008 94 de Solla et al. 2008 95 Environment Canada 2007 55

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