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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Road Ecology, Road Mitigation Systems, Road Passage Structures, Freshwater Turtles, Painted turtles


Roads are long linear features on the landscape that impact wildlife and their habitats. Among all forms of wildlife turtles are one of the most negatively affected by roads. Wildlife biologists and civil engineers have developed and implemented road design measures to mitigate the negative effects associated with roads. One common approach used to reduce road mortality and to facilitate movement of turtles is to construct a road mitigation system. There are currently 28 road mitigation systems for wildlife in Massachusetts, of which 14 were specifically built for turtles. We identified all known systems in Massachusetts and collected site and structural design information for each. In addition, we also examined the relative effectiveness of experimental passages for freshwater turtles. Structures were evaluated with respect to how their height, width, and position (at or below-grade), influenced the movements of painted turtles. A total of 190 turtles were exposed to the experiential trials and their behavior was characterized by 3 response variables (Total time to complete the trial, Total hesitations observed, and Success based on no hesitations and completion of the trial in less than 120 minutes). We concluded that painted turtles exposed to below-grade tunnels were less hesitant and traveled faster through them as the tunnel size increased from 0.6 m x 0.6 m to 1.2 m x 1.2 m. The 1.2 m x 1.2 m tunnel size overall proved to be the size with the fewest hesitations observed, fastest total times, and highest success rate.


First Advisor

Paul R Sievert