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Apalone mutica

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA TESTUDINES TRIONYCHIDAE

Scientific Name: Apalone mutica
Species Authority: (LeSueur, 1827)
Common Name(s):
English Smooth Softshell Turtle
Synonym(s):
Apalone mutica subspecies calvata (Webb, 1959)
Apalone mutica subspecies mutica (LeSueur, 1827)
Trionyx muticus LeSueur, 1827
Trionyx muticus subspecies calvatus Webb, 1959
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are recognized: Apalone mutica mutica (LeSueur, 1827) and Apalone mutica calvata (Webb, 1959)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-08-01
Assessor(s): van Dijk, P.P.
Justification:
Apalone mutica is a reasonably widespread, fairly cryptic, and locally common species with high reproductive potential by turtle standards. Extensive areas of suitable habitat exist and are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. Harvest rates appear not significant enough to have led to documented localised declines. Nevertheless, this assessment is more an issue of lack of data documenting a decline than available data indicating stable populations; population monitoring is highly desirable as the species can be argued to warrant Near Threatened. It is however currently listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Apalone mutica inhabits the greater Mississippi basin from Louisiana up to North Dakota, Minnesota and western Pennsylvania, as well as the Colorado, Brazos, Sabine, and Pearl, Alabama and Escambia river systems (Webb 1973, Iverson 1992).

Apalone mutica mutica
: Mississippi basin, and western rivers to central Texas;

Apalone mutica calvata
: Pearl, Alabama and Escambia river systems.
Countries:
Native:
United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Apalone mutica can reach substantial densities, up to 1.2 individuals per linear meter of river, and a basking aggregation of 88 animals was reported (Plummer 1977, Trauth et al. 2004). However, there have been anecdotal observations of declining populations, at least locally, as well as consistently failing recruitment as a result of water level regulation in large rivers flooding nesting banks (Janzen pers. comm. 2010).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Apalone mutica typically occur in medium-sized to large rivers with moderate to fast currents, but also occur in standing water bodies like lakes, ponds and marshes as long as these are connected to the river at least during floods. Soft bottoms are preferred, and accessible sandbanks must be present. Smooth Softshells are preferentially carnivorous omnivores, feeding mainly on insects but also taking other kinds of animal food as well as plant seeds and fruits.

Males reach 27 cm carapace length (CL); females 36 cm CL. Maturity is reached at four years in males, nine years in females; size at maturity is apparently unknown. Longevity probably exceeds 20 years. Generation time has not been calculated.

Females produce two to three clutches of about 14 (1–33) eggs. Incubation takes about 63 (44–82) days. Hatchlings measure 30–37 mm (reviews by Moler 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Apalone mutica is probably exported as part of the general food trade to East Asia, and as juveniles into the global pet trade, but numbers of declared exports of A. mutica in the LEMIS database are significantly less than those of A. spinifera or A. ferox.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The impact of commercial exploitation appears undocumented and unquantified, though bycatch in commercial fisheries and recreational fishing has been suspected to be a factor in the observed decline in at least some populations (Janzen pers. comm. 2010).

Water pollution has been implicated in population reductions (Trauth et al. 2004). Increasingly frequent flooding events, resulting from a combination of anthropogenic activities upstream (increased hard surface area, increased stormwater runoff volumes and speed) and changing, more pulsed, precipitation patterns, consistently impact nesting areas and may preclude successful reproduction (e.g., Cedar River, Iowa) (Janzen pers. comm. 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Apalone mutica is subject to a variety of State legislation and regulations, and likely occurs in several protected areas.

Citation: van Dijk, P.P. 2013. Apalone mutica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 16 September 2014.
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