Bria Spalding

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Katherine Greenwald

Second Advisor

Kristi Judd

Third Advisor

Marianne Laporte


Habitat fragmentation, including damming rivers, is a major threat to species conservation in urban areas causing reduced dispersal and biodiversity. Dam removal is typically beneficial to many species because dams restrict the movement of many organisms. However, the dam removal may negatively impact some species. The purpose of our study was to assess the potential effects that the removal of the Peninsular Paper Dam (Huron River, Ypsilanti) may have on painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) by monitoring their habitat use prior to dam removal. Chrysemys picta is a native species abundant in lentic systems (ponds and lakes) with muddy substrates, conditions found in the currently impounded area. Following dam removal, much of this habitat is likely to change dramatically to a rocky, fast-flowing river system that is less conducive to supporting Chrysemys picta. We tracked eight female turtles daily over the summer of 2019 using radio-telemetry. Using GPS location data and predicted river flow following dam removal, we found most of aquatic habitat currently used by C. picta, including overwintering sites, will disappear. Our results suggest that the future river may not be optimal C. picta habitat following the dam removal, and therefore this species should be actively managed throughout the dam removal process.

Included in

Biology Commons