Turtles Die in Southern California Lake Following Drought and Fire
Turtles Die in Southern California Lake Following Drought and Fire.
This study is the first to examine the interaction of fire and drought on the survival, behavior and health of a semi-aquatic turtle population.
In 2013, a large fire occurred around the lake during prolonged drought conditions.
USGS scientists began collecting water-quality data and assessing the health of the turtles in 2014.
Findings showed the fire put large amounts of ash into the lake, contributing to the deterioration of water quality already caused by the drought.
Many turtles were severely emaciated and coated with a pale mineralized layer on their shells and skin.
Deceased turtles were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center for analysis, and were confirmed to have died of starvation.
Salt-encrusted remains of a southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida) as found in the dry lake bed of Elizabeth Lake, Los Angeles County, California.
Note the heavy coating of evaporites on the carcass.