Kinosternon arizonense 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Testudines Kinosternidae

Scientific Name: Kinosternon arizonense
Species Authority: Gilmore, 1923
Common Name(s):
English Arizona Mud Turtle
Kinosternon flavescens ssp. arizonense Gilmore, 1923
Kinosternon flavescens ssp. stejnegeri Hartweg, 1938
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly treated as a subspecies of Kinosternon flavescens, but it was elevated to full species level by Serb et al. (2001).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Frost, D., Hammerson, G. & Gadsden, H.
Reviewer(s): Iverson, J.B. & Rhodin, A.G.J. (Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Red List Authority)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in northwestern Mexico, ranging into extreme southwestern United States of America. It ranges from central and northern Sonora, northwest to southern Arizona (Smith and Smith 1979, Berry and Berry 1984, Iverson 1992, Serb et al. 2001). Its elevational range is 100 to 1,100m a.s.l. (Iverson 1989, Ernst et al. 1994, Smith and Smith 1979: 181).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It can occur locally at very high densities: 45 minutes of trapping in one 0.15 ha pond gathered 25 adult animals (translating to a biomass of 58 kg/ha), and additional trapping would probably have caught more turtles (Iverson 1989). It is locally extremely common, particularly between 200 and 800 m altitude, and human construction of ponds is considered to benefit populations of K. arizonense (Iverson 1989, and in litt. 28 Jan 2007).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:K. arizonense resides in temporary preseas, ponds, tanks and roadside ditches, as well as in some permanent lentic waters. Arizona Mud Turtles seem to avoid permanent streams and rivers (Iverson 1989).

An activity period during the rains from early July to middle August was reported for the Sonora desert (Iverson 1989); in adverse years, aestivation grades into hibernation without an activity period at all (Schilde 2001). The animals are active mainly during daylight hours, basking when air temperatures approach 45ÂșC, and can undertake substantial travels on the desert floor (Iverson 1989).
The species is primarily a carnivorous feeder.

Females appear to reach maturity at a body size of 12 to 13 cm and 6 to 10 years of age (Iverson 1989). Mating occurs in July, and nesting occurs in July and early August; clutches comprise on average 4.7 eggs (range 1 to 9), and females typically lay two or three clutches. Hatching probably takes place in the next year's rainy season, with an incubation period of about 11 months (Iverson 1989).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The rarity of the species in scientific collections, combined with ongoing extensive modification of the Sonoran desert for ranching, agriculture and flood control, was in the past believed to indicate that the species may be threatened. As a species inhabiting wetlands in an arid region, it is susceptible to climatic impacts and habitat degradation; while adult animals may well be able to survive long periods of adverse conditions, recruitment might only occur in optimal years and as such would be extensively impacted even by minor changes. It is probably locally impacted by road kills.

However, studies have shown the species to be extremely abundant in suitable habitat throughout a wide area, and the species apparently benefits from pond construction by humans (Iverson 1989). Hence overall it is not considered significantly at risk.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Turtles in general are protected from exploitation under Mexican wildlife and natural resource legislation; implementation is uneven and in places better enforcement is probably needed. As an aquatic or semiaquatic species occurring in an extremely austere climatic zone, its persistence can only be considered tenuous. Full protection from all depredation except scientific study should be provided, and sanctuaries should be established where habitat destruction can be prevented (Smith and Smith 1979: 182).

It occurs in Organ Pipe Natural Monument (IUCN Cat.III, 134 sq. km.) in Arizona, and perhaps in El Pinacante y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Sonora, and in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (Cat.IV, 3480 sq. km) in Arizona, which are located within the range of the species.

The species apparently benefits from humans constructing ponds within its range.
Status surveys and conservation assessments of this species are needed.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.2. Artificial/Aquatic - Ponds (below 8ha)
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.9. Artificial/Aquatic - Canals and Drainage Channels, Ditches
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.4. Scale unspecified

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.8. Abstraction of ground water (unknown use)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

0. Root -> 100.2. OLD 3-Research actions
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Berry, J. F. and Berry, C.M. 1984. A re-analysis of geographic variation and systematics in the Yellow Mud Turtle, Kinosternon flavescens (Agassiz). Annals of the Carnegie Museum 53(7): 185-206.

Ernst, C.H., Lovich, J.E. and Barbour, R.W. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian, Washington, DC. 578 pp.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Iverson, J.B. 1989. The Arizona mud turtle Kinosternon flavescens arizonense (Kinosternidae) in Arizona and Sonora. Southwestern Naturalist 34(3): 356-368.

Iverson, J.B. 1992. A Revised Checklist with Distribution Maps of the Turtles of the World. Privately published, Richmond, Indiana.

Serb, J.M., Phillips, C.A. and Iverson, J.B. 2001. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of Kinosternon flavescens based on complete mitochondrial control region sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 18(1): 149-162.

Smith, H.M. and Smith, R.B. 1979. Synopsis of the Herpetofauna of Mexico (Vol. VI - Guide to Mexican Turtles ). John Johnson, North Bennington, VT. xvii + 1044 pp.

Citation: Frost, D., Hammerson, G. & Gadsden, H. 2016. Kinosternon arizonense. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T63666A97379712. . Downloaded on 30 September 2016.
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