USA Turtle Mapping Project
USA Turtle Mapping Project
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Many US freshwater turtles and tortoises are little studied, and basic ecological information is lacking including where they occur. In 2011, a national effort will be launched to compile new and existing locality data for US turtles and tortoises, with a focus on selected species. These are not always the rarest species, but include common species which could easily go the way of the extinct Passenger Pigeon from unmonitored ‘take’ or habitat degradation. In collaboration with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, a subset of US species has been identified for which distributional information is critically needed to better gauge their conservation status. Our focal species at this time include:
Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Gopher tortoises (Gopherus species)Desert tortoise (G agassizii)
Texas Tortoise (G. berlandieri)
Gopher Tortoise (G. polyphemus)
Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Box turtles (Terrapene species)Eastern box turtle (T. carolina; especially T. c. carolina)
Ornate box turtle (T. ornata)
Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata)
If you have many sightings to report, you will probably want to use the Microsoft Excel form.
If you have individual or a few sightings to report, or don't have access to Microsoft software, you may wish to use our Fillable PDF form, which can be filled out for each sighting, saved under a new name, and emailed back to us.
If you want to record data in the field, or prefer to mail us hardcopy, you may want the Hardcopy PDF form.
In any case, if you don't have a GPS and need to look up coordinates for your sighting on Google Earth (which you can download for free), you can either hover the 'hand' tool over the site and write down the coordinates, or use the pushpin marker tool to mark and label the spot for future reference.
Kimberly Barela (see photo) is a student intern at Oregon State University, Corvallis, who will be working with Dede Olson (US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; National Co-Chair of PARC) to compile these forms and develop distribution maps of these species.
Another way that local turtle enthusiasts, schools/classes, or conservation groups may participate in this effort is to conduct a local ‘bioblitz’ to collect new turtle or tortoise distribution information. Please check with state laws regarding permits that may be needed if you plan to handle or trap these species, and be aware that you cannot go onto others’ lands without their permission. And of course, Safety First!