Australian freshwater turtle populations have declined substantially, with consequent losses to aquatic ecosystem functions. A leading hypothesis is that turtles have declined through lost recruitment caused by high nest predation by invasive foxes. The ‘fox hypothesis’ is supported by experiments showing that nest predation rates exceed 95% in many regions. Furthermore, population surveys have repeatedly found absences of juvenile turtles, and headstarting experiments have successfully replaced those juveniles in some species. We are currently leading a nationwide citizen science program, ‘1 Million Turtles’ (, to engage local communities to protect turtles from threats like nest predation using a suite of novel approaches. Our key innovation is to leverage community passion and interest for turtles to create positive conservation impacts via a nationwide support network. We provide a data collection tool and framework (TurtleSAT) and self-guided training in conservation methods. We assist with guidance for gaining licencing and permission, and applying for grants. We are evaluating our approach through both the impacts on turtle populations as well as through surveys of our engaged citizen scientists. Ultimately, we aim to create a science-supported, national grassroots conservation model where community champions can lead their own evidence-based approaches to help wildlife.

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