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Clemmys guttata

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA TESTUDINES EMYDIDAE

Scientific Name: Clemmys guttata
Species Authority: (Schneider, 1792)
Common Name/s:
English Spotted Turtle
Synonym/s:
Testudo guttata Schneider, 1792

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cde+4ce 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
Justification:
A thorough, detailed summary of the Spotted Turtle's status is needed, but with a generation time of probably over 25 years, the species is likely to have suffered more than 50% overall reduction, much of this being irreversible through habitat loss. At remaining locations, habitat succession may be a challenge, while population recovery from past collection for pet trade and ongoing traffic and other accidental mortality, and recolonization of any new sites with suitable habitat, is slow and constrained by subsidized predators and possibly climatic changes. The species meets the criteria for Endangered A2cde+A4ce.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Clemmys guttata inhabits the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States, occurring from the southern tip of Lake Michigan to the St. Lawrence valley, as well as the upper reaches of the Ohio River system. It also occurs in the Atlantic coastal lowlands and foothills from New Hampshire (possibly southern Maine), southwards to northern Florida (Iverson 1992, Meylan 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009).
Countries:
Native:
Canada (Ontario, Québec); United States (Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

Clemmys guttata generally occurs in small localized populations. Population sizes range from 30–1,205 individuals, though most populations are believed to be small or tiny. Reported population densities range from 0.05–79.1 Spotted Turtles per hectare, though most are at the order of 1–10 animals/ha.

Several populations have been documented as in decline, through loss of adults or lack of recruitment (Meylan 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009).

In Michigan, C. guttata’s status is considered similar or worse than that of Emys (Emydoidea) blandingii, and it is rated as Threatened. In Ohio, few stable populations persist, 3–5% of original wetland habitat remains, and the species is largely confined to marginal habitat. In Massachusetts, an increase in recorded occurrences (individuals, but not necessarily populations) led to a downlisting of its status from  'Species of Special Concern' to 'Species of Conservation Interest' in 2006.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Clemmys guttata inhabits a variety of wetland types, including vernal pools, swamps, bogs and marshes, small streams, wet meadows, and early and mature wet forests.

Spotted Turtles feed preferentially on small live animal prey, but also take some fruits and filamentous algae.

Maximum size 14.3 cm carapace length (CL). Maturity is reached at 7–13 years (8–10.5 cm CL) in males, and at 7–15 years (8–10.3 cm CL) in females. Longevity is at least 30 years, possibly as high as 65–110 years. Generation time has not been calculated but is likely at the order of 20–30 years.

Females produce one or two clutches of 3–5 (range 1–14) eggs. Incubation takes 67 (50–90) days. Hatchlings measure 27 (range 26–31) mm.

[Information taken from: Litzgus 2006, Meylan 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009]
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Clemmys guttata apparently has population dynamics that particularly emphasize the long-term reproductive contributions of adult animals over time (Litzgus 2006); as a result, the species is particularly sensitive to removal of adults from a population, and impacts of even casual collection for pets, or traffic mortality, have significant impacts on a population. Collection for personal pets or trade, and mortality on roads and from agricultural machinery, have all been documented for the species.

Invasive plant species affecting wetland vegetation structure are a contributing threat factor.

Clemmys guttata is reasonably specialized in its habitat requirements, and is not a good disperser/colonizer. As a result, habitat degradation, fragmentation and loss leads to disappearance of populations, while new opportunities, if any, are rarely colonized. Most populations are small to very small and thus sensitive to localized extinction.

Subsidized predators (i.e., unnaturally large populations of predators subsidized by easily available resources near human settlements) probably represent a further impact on eggs and juveniles, and likely reduce recruitment into existing populations.

[Information taken from: Meylan 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009].

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Spotted Turtle is legally protected in Ontario and Quebec in Canada and in several States in the United States. Clemmys guttata is confirmed to occur in a number of protected areas; however, because of vegetation dynamics, pollution and potential collection impacts, such protected populations are not necessarily secure in the long-term.

Securing suitable habitat for the species, including maintaining appropriate successional stages, is particularly important for the survival of the Spotted Turtle. Strict enforcement of legal protection is essential, as well as consideration of stricter protective laws and regulations for the species where appropriate.
Citation: van Dijk, P.P. 2011. Clemmys guttata. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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