100 Years Of Box Turtles : Short Wave The common box turtle is found just about anywhere in the continental United States east of Colorado. For all their ubiquity, it's unclear how many there are or how they're faring in the face of many threats—from lawn mowers to climate change to criminals. So today, science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce presents the researchers hunting for turtles—and for answers. They're creating a century-long study to monitor thousands of box turtles in North Carolina.

Heard about other ambitious research? We want to know! Reach us by tweeting @NPRShortWave or emailing shortwave@npr.org.

100 Years Of Box Turtles

100 Years Of Box Turtles

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There have been a few long term studies of the box turtle that looked at box turtle populations over several decades. The studies showed big population declines—75 percent or more. Nell Greenfieldboyce/NPR hide caption

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Nell Greenfieldboyce/NPR

There have been a few long term studies of the box turtle that looked at box turtle populations over several decades. The studies showed big population declines—75 percent or more.

Nell Greenfieldboyce/NPR

Perhaps you have encountered the common box turtle. Like their name implies, they're fairly ubiquitous—found just about anywhere in the continental United States just about anywhere east of Colorado. The turtles have a domed shell, usually smattered with yellow patches, can have bright red eyes and while they can run, they usually don't flee from humans.

For all their commonness and familiarity, it's unclear how many there are or how they're faring in the face of many threats—from lawn mowers to climate change to criminals. Science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce talks to senior editor Gabriel Spitzer about a study to monitor thousands of box turtles in North Carolina—for a century.

Heard about other ambitious research? We want to know! Reach us by tweeting @NPRShortWave or emailing shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez, edited by Gisele Grayson and fact-checked by Abē Levine. Maggie Luthar was the audio engineer.