Studying Turtles in Crete

Niarchos Program Takes Yale Students and Researchers to Crete to Study Turtles

Supported by a grant from the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation

Thanks to a generous grant from the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, during June 2003 the Peabody Museum of Natural History (YPM) and the Natural History Museum of Crete (NHMC) participated in their first summer study program at the University of Crete. Part of the collaboration initiative between YPM and NHMC, this summer study program has dual objectives: to train undergraduate and graduate students in ecology and biodiversity, and to nurture cultural exchanges among people with common scientific objectives. Through this program, 6 Yale researchers and 12 Yale students were given the opportunity to travel to Crete, collect specimens, and experience the geology and biodiversity of this Mediterranean island through NHMC collections and field trips.


One of the research projects being supported through this collaboration involves the monitoring of the turtle Mauremys rivulata in wetlands throughout the island. This past summer, research teams from YPM and NHMC came together to capture, mark and release M. rivulata as part of a long-term monitoring program by the 2 institutions. Teams focused on collecting tissue (nails, to be used to isolate DNA) and life history data for turtles living in Pombia, a wetland associated with a sewage treatment plant, and in the Almyros River, which empties into the Mediterranean Sea.


Data for this species were collected and incorporated into the NHMC’s database. Students were trained in field techniques used to trap, measure, mark and then release turtles. They also were taught how to navigate the NHMC database, and as a result learned much about specimen and data management in museums.


Participating students included Yale College student Linda Shi, Wellesley College senior Catrina Huynh from the anthropology lab of Dr. Anastasia Karakasidou, University of Crete graduate student Georgia Mantziou, and undergraduate student Ioanna Kaftatzi. Collaborating researchers are YPM’s Theodora Pinou and Petros Lymberakis from the NHMC.

                            —Theodora Pinou, Niarchos Project Coordinator


Originally published in Yale Environmental News, Spring 2004
vol. 9, no. 2. © 2004 Yale University. All rights reserved.