Oviposition and subsequent depredation of Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) nests in fresh asphalt


  • Shane R. de Solla Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Jaclyn A. Gugelyk Environment and Climate Change Canada




Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina, asphalt, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, oviposition, predation, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario


On 28 June 2009, three Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) nests were found oviposited in fresh asphalt beside a bridge in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario. One nest was excavated immediately; the other two were left untouched. The two nests left in situ were revisited on 28 July when it was discovered that one nest had been depredated by an unknown predator. Evidence of the third nest was obliterated by tracks of large mammals crossing the bridge. These observations suggest that predators find turtle nests despite the strong odour of asphalt. To examine potential negative impacts of asphalt on turtle eggs, five clean Snapping Turtle eggs, collected elsewhere in Algonquin Provincial Park, were buried in asphalt on 28 July. After eight days, the translocated eggs had obvious staining and contained 0.081–0.376 μg/g (wet weight) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), presumably resulting from asphalt exposure. The risk of exposure to PAHs or other chemicals associatedwith asphalt is unknown, but the levels of PAHs in these eggs appeared lower than those associated with acute toxicity.

Author Biographies

Shane R. de Solla, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Wildlife Toxicology Research Section, Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Health Division, Wildlife and Landscape Science Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Jaclyn A. Gugelyk, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Laboratory Technician - Wildlife Toxicology Research Section, Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Canada.