Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

January 2012 Speaker

Our January speaker will be Ms Rebecca Bolt, Wildlife Ecologist at Kennedy Space Center.  Becky holds Bachelor and Master Degrees in Biological Sciences from the University of Central Florida, and has twenty-six years of experience working with wildlife on the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).  She is employed by InoMedic Health Applications, supporting NASA’s Environmental Division.  She conducts monitoring and research to determine the effects of KSC operations on a wide variety of habitats and wildlife species. Her objective is to help project managers avoid and minimize those impacts, and to establish appropriate mitigation when impacts cannot be avoided. Becky also confers with governmental agencies and private groups regarding wildlife issues, writes Environmental Impact Statements, Environmental Assessments, and other NEPA documentation, and is author or co-author on more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific publications. She is a member of the Gopher Tortoise Council and is Conservation Committee chairperson of the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Becky lives in Cocoa, has two adult daughters, and is totally captivated by her two-year-old granddaughter.

Becky’s subject will be Florida Land Turtles.  Florida is home to two species, the box turtle and the gopher tortoise. These animals might appear to be similar in many ways, but they are actually quite different. Box turtles occur throughout the state and are considered to be common. Box turtles are generalists in habitat and can be found anywhere from wet hammocks to dry, grassy fields. They also eat a wide variety of foods, being strictly carnivorous when young, but adding more plants to their diet as they grow older. In contrast, gopher tortoises once occurred in all parts of Florida, but populations have been extirpated from many areas and they are state-listed as Threatened. Gopher tortoises are restricted to high, dry habitats and live in burrows. They are a keystone species because over 300 invertebrate and vertebrate animals have been documented using their burrows. Gopher tortoises are herbivorous all of their lives. Box turtle and gopher tortoise populations in Florida face many of the same threats, including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, road mortality, and disease. Come join us to learn about these fascinating animals and get ideas and information on how you can help keep them alive and well in Florida.