The Endangered Aquatic Box Turtle

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

download word file, 1 pages 3.0

Coahuilan Aquatic box turtle (Terrapene coahuila) is a species of turtle that is experiencing many of the problems that faces species around the world, most specifically habitation loss. Unfortunately, it has not received much attention by the international community by virtue of its location and population size. Virtually all knowledge of this creature's habits and habitats is from a report made by W.S. Brown in 1974 The Coahuilan box turtle is restricted to the specialized marshy habitats of the intermountain desert basin of Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila State, and northern Mexico. It is very specialized, and not equipped to travel across inhospitable terrain, further endangering it's growth. Its terrain is limited to and area of a mere eight hundred square kilometers. This terrain limitation is at the root of this species problem. As it thrives only in small spring-fed marshes with shallow water, a mud bottom, and dense aquatic vegetation further encroachment humans is devastating the remaining population.

The turtle is specifically formed to be able to forage feed in these shallow pools for aquatic vegetation, small invertebrates, fly larvae, and other small insects.

With human development of the habitat of the species, drastic population dips have been noted. According to W.S. Brown in a ten sq. kilometer marsh was reduced by approximately .25 sq. km., virtually eliminating the turtle population as between 3700 and 7400 Coahuilan box turtles died or emigrated. Due to a lack of study data, there is no official count on total population, but as each habitat is destroyed, massive numbers lose their homes and eventually die off.

For several reasons, the Terrapene coahuila has been designated as endangered by the international community and the US government. However, monitoring and preservation are very difficult to enforce as all of the wild, untamed population is within Mexican borders, and only a minute captive population. This designation, denoting that the species is in imminent danger of extinction, has brought new awareness to this reptile, and has helped to reduce somewhat, the causes of habitat loss, but not nearly halted them. The turtle is