Turtles and tortoises are the most threatened of any other major groups of terrestrial vertebrates (such as birds, mammals, amphibians). Recently, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has approved proposals to increase protection for 44 species of Asian freshwater turtles and tortoises and three species of North American pond turtles (Blandings, Spotted and Diamondback Terrapins). This is an important step towards recognizing and taking action towards turtle conservation.
“Freshwater turtles worldwide are in desperate need of conservation, and the outlook for Asian turtles is especially grim.”
— Bryan Arroyo, head of the U.S. delegation to the CITES meeting.
The conservation of Asian turtles is significant because it has an impact on our North American turtles as well. Historically in the global commerce of turtles, as a species becomes depleted, the pressure shifts to another species that is less threatened and/or less regulated. In this case, as Asian species become increasingly depleted, it puts greater pressure on the trade of our native North American turtle species. Thus, three North American species were proposed to be listed in CITES Apendix II to help manage the trade in a legal and sustainable manner.
Our lab aims to contribute to the conservation effort of Asian turtles through our genetic and ecological exploration of endangered Asian softshells in the Hawai’ian islands.
For more information on this issue, please refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife links below:
Juvenile Pelodiscus (source)