One of Australia’s most curious and much-loved species, the platypus, is under a new threat from rising freshwater temperatures, according to new research.
Reptiles do as well.
Climate change threatens endangered freshwater turtle
By Candace ⋅ July 11, 2011
The Mary river turtle (Elusor macrurus), which is restricted to only one river system in Australia, will suffer from multiple problems if temperatures predicted under climate change are reached, researchers from the University of Queensland have shown.
The scientists, who are presenting their work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual conference in Glasgow on 3rd July 2011, incubated turtle eggs at 26, 29 and 32⁰C. Young turtles which developed under the highest temperature showed reduced swimming ability and a preference for shallower waters.
This combination of physiological and behavioural effects can have dual consequences for survival chances. “Deeper water not only provides the young turtles with protection from predators but is also where their food supply is found,” explains PhD researcher, Mariana Micheli-Campbell. “Young turtles with poor swimming abilities which linger near the surface are unable to feed and are very likely to get picked off by birds. These results are worrying as climate change predictions for the area suggest that nest temperatures of 32⁰C are likely to be reached in the coming decades.”
The Mary river turtle is already listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List and the population has suffered a large decline over the past decades. Some factors known to have affected the population include collection of the eggs for the pet trade and introduced predators such as foxes and dogs. “Whether climate change has already contributed to the decline is not clear,” says Ms. Micheli-Campbell. “But these results show it may be a danger to this species in the future.”
These findings may be shared by other species of turtle, but the outcome is likely to be more extreme in the Mary River turtle as climatic warming is particularly pronounced for this area and the relatively shallow nests of freshwater turtles are more susceptible to changes in ambient temperature than the deeper nests of sea turtles. Further research is needed to understand the effects of climate change on incubation in other turtles.
Source: Society For Experimental Biology
October 2011: Perched at the northern tip of Australia’s Simpson Desert, Bush Heritage’s most remote reserves, Cravens Peak and Ethabuka, are home to the richest reptile fauna of any arid region in the world: here.
The Giant South American River Turtle, Podocnemis expansa, is currently listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; however, a recent Red List reevaluation of this species suggests that it will be listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ following completion of the formal review process: here.
August 2011: Large numbers of sick, starving and dead turtles are being washed up on beaches on the east coast of Australia, according to the WWF. The reports of the deaths follows the loss of sea grasses after Cyclone Yasi and floods hit the area back in February: here.
As part of its commitment to taking a strategic landscape-scale approach to biodiversity, the Australian Government will invest $10.0 million over three years in the National Wildlife Corridors Plan: here.
The weird-looking pig-nosed turtle is under threat from traditional hunting in New Guinea: here.
Endangered River Turtle’s Genes Reveal Ancient Influence of Maya Indians: here.
USA: Unregulated commercial collection of freshwater turtles in southern and midwestern states is depleting native turtle populations, including those of rare map turtle species that may already be at risk of extinction: here.
Sea turtle released after 14-month rehab for broken shell: here.
Every year, hundreds of female Green and Loggerhead sea turtles head for land on local beaches in Panama City, Florida.
- Protecting endangered species we don’t know much about (theconversation.com)
- Western Swamp Turtle – Has Become Part of the Endangered Species List (sotinpc.wordpress.com)
- Puerto Rico creates an ecological corridor to protect leatherback turtles (treehugger.com)
- American painted turtle, new research (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Beware Of Turtles Crossing Roads; They Might Need Help (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- The Terrible Turtle Trade in Indonesia (earthtimes.org)
- Identifying ecosystems at risk – the new IUCN Red List (theconversation.com)
- Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out… James Bryant Conant (oldsaltbooks.wordpress.com)
- Turtles turn female as habitats heat up (mnn.com)