occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and adjacent Mexico (Serb et al. 2001).
Distribution: USA (S Arizona), Mexico (Sonora)
Length: 16 cm
Habitat and Ecology
An activity period during the rains from early July to middle August was reported for the Sonora desert (Iverson 1989); in adverse years, aestivation grades into hibernation without an activity period at all (Schilde 2001). The animals are active mainly during daylight hours, basking when air temperatures approach 45ÂºC, and can undertake substantial travels on the desert floor (Iverson 1989).
The species is primarily a carnivorous feeder.
Females appear to reach maturity at a body size of 12 to 13 cm and 6 to 10 years of age (Iverson 1989). Mating occurs in July, and nesting occurs in July and early August; clutches comprise on average 4.7 eggs (range 1 to 9), and females typically lay two or three clutches. Hatching probably takes place in the next year's rainy season, with an incubation period of about 11 months (Iverson 1989).
Comments: Inhabits various quiet or slow-flowing bodies of water, usually with soft mud or sand bottom, in areas of desert. Often in temporary water, may travel overland.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Comments: Diet is mainly invertebrates (Iverson 1989).
Population density can be high; in Sonora in a 0.15 ha pond, 25 adults were caught with 4 traps in 45 min (Iverson 1989).
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Activity is stimulated by summer rains; may remain inactive underground if ponds fail to form due to lack of rain or runoff (Iverson 1989).
Two or three (typically 2) clutches of 2-7 eggs are laid from July to mid-August in the Southwest (Iverson 1989). Eggs hatch perhaps after 10+ months at beginning of next rainy season in Southwest (Iverson 1989). Females become sexually mature in about 6-10 years in the Southwest (Iverson 1989).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Kinosternon arizonense
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Small range in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and adjacent Mexico.
Other Considerations: This species lives fairly long, but has a low annual reproductive output (Ernst and Barbour 1989).
However, studies have shown the species to be extremely abundant in suitable habitat throughout a wide area, and the species apparently benefits from pond construction by humans (Iverson 1989). Hence overall it is not considered significantly at risk.
It occurs in Organ Pipe Natural Monument (IUCN Cat.III, 134 sq. km.) in Arizona, and perhaps in El Pinacante y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Sonora, and in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (Cat.IV, 3480 sq. km) in Arizona, which are located within the range of the species.
The species apparently benefits from humans constructing ponds within its range.
Status surveys and conservation assessments of this species are needed.
Arizona mud turtle
The Arizona Mud Turtle (Kinosternon arizonense) is species of mud turtle in the Kinosternidae family. The turtle’s body vary in colour. The carapace (upper portion of the shell) tends to be brown, olive or a yellow- brown in colour. The marginal shields, which can be described as the rim around the shell is yellow. In addition, the lower portion of the shell also known as the plastron is yellow as well. The top of the head is grey in colour and the sides are cream. One thing that separates them from other species of turtles is that the first and second marginal shield do not connect.
Habitat and Behaviour
The Arizona Mud Turtle can be located in the Lower Colorado River Lower Colorado River Sonoran Desertscrub,Arizona Upland Sonoran Desertscrub, and Semidesert Grassland communities. The Arizona Mud Turtle’s activity occurs during the day. It also is active at night but specifically in July and August in monsoon season. Due to the fact that it is warm during this period, they tend to spend most of their time in the water, hence why they are known as semi aquatic. During the winter months, they hibernate in an underground burrow. Their diet consists of toads, tadpoles, fish, intervertabrates and carrion. The Arizona Mud Turtle lays one to seven eggs and mates primarily in the summer. Female turtles tend to grow between 12 to 13 cm and have life span from 6 to 10 years age. During mating season females tend to lay between 1 to 7 eggs.
The species is considered threatened, due to the fact that there has been ranching, agriculture and flood control taking place in the Sonoran Dessert. Establishing themselves in wetlands, also exposes them to climate and habitat degradation. An adult Arizona Mud Turtle usually will survive these conditions, however, could be impacted. Road kill amongst these species is also quite popular amongst this specie. On the positive side, the Arizona mud turtle adapts and benefits from pond reconstruction performed by humans.
- Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 251. ISSN 18640-5755. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Brennan, Thomas. "ARIZONA MUD TURTLE Kinosternon arizonense". Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- Frost, D., Hammerson, G. & Gadsden, H. "Arizona Mud Turtle". Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Gilmore (1923). "A new fossil turtle, Kinosternon arizonense, from Arizona". Proceedings of the United States National Museum 62: 1–8.
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Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Formerly included as a subspecies of Kinosternon flavescens.Serb et al. (2001) examined K. flavescens phylogeny based on mtDNA data and identified three three distinct clades that they ranked as species: (1) K. flavescens of the Central Plains, including isolated populations of Illinois and Iowa, (2) K. arizonense in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico, and (3) K. durangoense in the Chihuahuan Desert of Durango, Coahuila, and Chihuahua, Mexico.