Pseudemys nelsoni 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Testudines Emydidae

Scientific Name: Pseudemys nelsoni Carr, 1938
Common Name(s):
English Florida Red-bellied Cooter, Florida Redbelly Turtle
Chrysemys nelsoni (Carr, 1938)
Pseudemys rubriventris ssp. nelsoni Carr, 1938

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-08-01
Assessor(s): van Dijk, P.P.
Reviewer(s): Horne, B.D., Mittermeier, R.A., Philippen, H.-D., Quinn, H.R., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B. & Vogt, R.C

Pseudemys nelsoni has been assessed as Least Concern as it has a moderately sizeable distribution across most of Florida and part of Georgia, with populations reportedly stable and well-represented in extensive protected areas.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Pseudemys nelsoni is found throughout peninsular Florida, in the Okefenokee Swamp of southern Georgia, and in an isolated population in the Florida panhandle, near Tallahassee. Introduced populations have been reported from San Marcos, Texas, and Tortola, British Virgin Islands (Jackson 2010).

Countries occurrence:
United States (Florida, Georgia, Texas - Introduced)
Virgin Islands, British
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Pseudemys nelsoni is generally abundant in suitable habitat and may be the numerically dominant freshwater turtle; densities of 4-22 individuals per hectare have been reported from open, suboptimal habitats to 78 animals/ha in prime locations. Overall, populations appear to be mostly stable ( Jackson 2006, 2010).

NatureServe (2006) considered the species as abundant throughout peninsular Florida and especially common in the Everglades, and assessed it as G5, or Least Concern, in 1996.

Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Pseudemys nelsoni inhabits a variety of freshwater habitats with abundant vegetation, including ditches, wetlands, marshes, ponds, lakes, and streams, mangrove-bordered creeks slow-flowing rivers and spring runs. Some individuals occur in brackish (30% saltwater) situations.

Pseudemys nelsoni is strictly herbivorous after its early juvenile years, feeding on a variety of aquatic plants.

Females average 30.5 cm carapace length (CL) and 4 kg body mass; the largest reported female was 37.5 cm CL, while males can reach to 30 cm CL. Females mature at about 27-29 cm CL at an age of seven to eight or more years, males from 19-23 cm CL and a minimum of three years onwards. Adult females produce three to six clutches of on average 14.6 (range 7-26) eggs annually, for a mean annual reproductive output of 64.4 eggs (Jackson 2010). Hatchlings measure about 32 (28-38) mm CL.

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Pseudemys nelsoni is collected for the pet trade and local human consumption.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Pseudemys nelsoni has been reported as subject to a variety of impacts, including habitat degradation due to pollution and wetland loss, collection for pet trade and local human consumption, accidental mortality from cars and boat propellers, and increased predation levels.

Impacts from invasive nest predators (fireants) and possibly subsidized native predators (i.e., unnaturally large populations of predators subsidized by easily available resources near human settlements), such as raccoons and possums, have been reported but appear not to represent a significant threat at present levels. Invasive non-indigenous red fire ants are known to predate on turtle nests, where they feed on pipped eggs, and sting, kill and subsequently feed on turtle hatchings (Allen et al. 2001). While this has been document for the green and loggerhead turtles, it may also threaten P. nelsoni, as this species is known to lay eggs in alligator nests, 20% of which are infested with fire ants in central Florida. A study on ant predation on P. nelsoni found that in an affected nest, 70% of the hatchlings were killed by fire ants either during pipping or shortly after hatching (Allen et al. 2001).

Overall, however, the species is sufficiently adaptable to current land use patterns and non-natural mortality impacts in its range, and its overall population status appears stable. The species was assessed as G5, or Least Concern, by NatureServe in 1996 (NatureServe 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Pseudemys nelsoni inhabits several large protected areas, including the Everglades National Park, Okefenokee NWR, and several State or local authority protected areas.

Minimizing wetland isolation and loss, mitigating the impacts of roads and residential developments near waterbodies, ensuring connectivity between wetlands and turtle populations, baseline distribution and population status surveys, and monitoring of sample populations, would all be highly desirable conservation measures (Jackson 2006, 2010).

Errata [top]

Errata reason: An errata assessment is required to generate a revised PDF without the range map which had been included in error; no range map was available when this assessment was originally published.

Citation: van Dijk, P.P. 2011. Pseudemys nelsoni (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T170495A97426506. . Downloaded on 23 May 2018.
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