Status Assessment AND Conservation Plan FOR the
Spotted Turtle in the Eastern United States
Photos (above, below): Jonathan Mays
Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata) have declined across their range and are of conservation concern throughout the United States and Canada. They are identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in all 21 states in which they occur, considered Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and have been petitioned for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. The Spotted Turtle Working Group, a team of state and federal biologists and university and NGO partners, collaborated to quantify the Spotted Turtle status and distribution from Maine to Florida (yellow region in figure)—as well as the effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation on the species—in order to prioritize both habitat conservation and management. As part of this project, we conducted standardized population assessments at multiple spatial scales, with centralized data analysis, to (1) establish population baselines, (2) inform a comprehensive adaptive management strategy, and (3) identify priority habitat and population management actions at the regional, state, and local levels.
To maintain self-sustaining populations of Spotted Turtles throughout their current occupied range in the eastern United States, and to achieve zero net loss of suitable habitat at high priority sites by (1) identifying, conserving, and enhancing priority seasonal wetland and terrestrial habitats in the eastern United States, and (2) applying conservation principles and practices to increase population size and support healthy metapopulations of Spotted Turtles and associated SGCN.
The Status Assessment and Conservation Plan was completed in August 2022 and is available for download here (version 10/13/22).
Supported by State Wildlife Grants through the Competitive SWG and Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) Programs.
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