Audrey Turcotte

Université de Sherbrooke
Ph.D. candidate

Supervisor: Dany Garant
Gabriel Blouin-Demers
Start: 2018-05-01
End: 2022-09-01


Behavioural, physiological and genetic responses of painted turtle populations exposed to human-made barriers and activities.
In the last decades, the increase and expansion of human activities have led to higher proximity and contact rate between humans and wildlife. These activities also led to the isolation and the loss of suitable habitats for wildlife populations. Thus, it became primordial to evaluate how human activities can influence species exposed to these disturbances. One possible approach is to identify the behavioural and physiological responses of animals to human disturbance in relation to long-term changes at the genetic level (e.g., genetic structure). It will allow us to obtain an overview of the human activities impact on animal populations. Isolation and loss of aquatic habitats are common and well-known. However, few studies look at the impact of periodic barriers (e.g., locks) that differ from permanent barriers by allowing intermittent connectivity of the aquatic system. In addition, boat activities can decrease aquatic habitat quality by reducing the survival probability of aquatic species (e.g., collisions with boats). In this context, the Rideau Canal, Ontario, Canada, seems to be an excellent study system with its 45 navigational locks and over 60,000 boat crossings during the 2019 operational periods indicating that some sections of the canal are highly exposed to boat activities. The objective of this project is to obtain an in-depth comprehension of the effect of human disturbance on painted turtle populations of the Rideau Canal by evaluating 1) how human disturbance affect risk-taking behavioural responses, 2) how human disturbance affect physiological processes by identifying the effects of these disturbances on the relationship between stress level and coloration intensity, and 3) how human barriers, such as locks, influence the genetic structure and diversity of painted turtle populations. The results of this study will allow a global view of human disturbance effects on the persistence of aquatic species and will facilitate the elaboration of management plans better adapted to the context of the species and system studied.


Conservation, écologie aquatique, Écologie moléculaire, tortue peinte, Génétique, coloration, personalité, stress, perturbations humaines, activité nautiques, barrières


1- Historical, contemporary, and future perspectives on a coupled social–ecological system in a changing world: Canada’s historic Rideau Canal
Bergman, Jordanna N., Christine Beaudoin, Isha Mistry, Audrey Turcotte, Chantal Vis, Valerie Minelga, Kate Neigel, Hsien-Yung Lin, Joseph R. Bennett, Nathan Young, Colin Rennie, Lindsay L. Trottier, Alice E.I. Abrams, Patrick Beaupre, Danny Glassman, Gabriel Blouin-Demers, Dany Garant, Lisa Donaldson, Jesse C. Vermaire, John P. Smol, Steven J. Cooke
2021 Environmental Reviews

2- Fixing the Canadian Species at Risk Act: identifying major issues and recommendations for increasing accountability and efficiency
Turcotte, Audrey, Natalie Kermany, Sharla Foster, Caitlyn A. Proctor, Sydney M. Gilmour, Maria Doria, James Sebes, Jeannette Whitton, Steven J. Cooke, Joseph R. Bennett,

3- Environmental determinants of haemosporidian parasite prevalence in a declining population of Tree swallows
Turcotte, Audrey, Marc Bélisle, Fanie Pelletier, Dany Garant
2017 Parasitology

4- Effects of blood parasite infection and innate immune genetic diversity on mating patterns in a passerine bird breeding in contrasted habitats
Garant, Dany, Audrey Bourret, Clarence Schmitt, Audrey Turcotte, Fanie Pelletier, Marc Bélisle
2018 PeerJ