Photo: spotted turtle (Ben Stegenga/The Orianne Society)
By Ethan Hatchett
The first thing to comes to mind when thinking about downtown Savannah is usually not a rare turtle. But using DNR’s Georgia Biodiversity Portal, you can see that a spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) was found near the city’s historic landmarks and famous restaurants less than five years ago.
Savannahians, this seldom seen species and more could be lurking right under your nose.
Greg Krakow, Biodiversity Conservation Data Manager with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, believes becoming familiar with the at-risk wildlife in your area is important.
“It gives you a personal connection to conservation,” Krakow said. “It raises awareness and changes the way people see things.”
The Biodiversity Portal makes that vision clearer no matter where you are in Georgia, and for everyone from middle school students to environmental consultants.
The unique website allows all to explore rare plants and animals throughout the state. Data can be sifted by family group and species. You can select to view only federal or state protected species. Searches can be focused further by layers of location, including county, watershed and ecoregion.
“This information is just too important.
“Most states charge money or restrict access to this kind of information,” Krakow said. “But we decided from the start that this portal would be free. This information is just too important.”
Along with providing fascinating information about rare plants and animals, the portal contains identification keys and in-depth looks at many of the agency’s conservation projects, such as forest management for gopher tortoises, Georgia’s state reptile.
Krakow stressed the connection between wildlife and their habitats. “The habitat these animals live in is essential. Without these habitats there is no wildlife.”
Clemmys guttata may be hard to find, but the Georgia Biodiversity Portal isn’t. Just go to georgiabiodiversity.com/portal. You can also access it at georgiawildlife.com/educational-resources, where the portal is linked under “Teaching Resources.”
IF LOOKING FOR LICHENS …
The Biodiversity Data Portal recently added a Lichens of Georgia section.
Based on years of research by Malcolm Hodges and Sean Beeching, this part of the portal profiles the state’s more than 920 lichen species, including lichens-by-location range maps, photos and lichen glossary. There’s also an overview of lichens in Georgia and the Lichen Atlas Project, plus a bibliography for those who want to dive even deeper.
Ethan Hatchett is a communications assistant in DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.