Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Most activity occurs in spring, particularly during the mornings, when the Chaco tortoise feeds primarily on plants of the Plantago genus. In summer, the diet comprises grasses, succulents and fruits of perennial shrubs. In northern Patagonia, at the beginning of each spring the Chaco tortoise digs short burrows (50 – 60 cm) in sandy soils, in which it seeks refuge at night and during the mid-day heat. Dens are also constructed, but these are much deeper (usually over 2 m), dug in hard soil and used over several seasons. In the southernmost part of its range, this species has been reported to hibernate for as long as five months in burrows or dens (2). Mating occurs during November and December, and nesting from January to March. During the breeding season, males aggressively defend their territories from rivals, biting their enemy on the forelimbs, sometimes inflicting bleeding wounds (2) (5). Up to three clutches of one to seven eggs may be laid each season, which hatch after 12 to 16 months. Sexual maturity is thought to be reached at 12 years (2).
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Description

This tortoise's common name is taken from the Chaco regions of Argentina and Paraguay in which it lives, but the Latin name chilensis is misleading, since the species is not native to Chile (4). The oval upper shell (carapace) may be either totally yellowish brown or have dark-brown to black growth rings (annuli) surrounding a tan centre on each scute. The rim of the shell is slightly serrated and has a dark wedge of pigment at the back edge of each scute. The lower shell (plastron) may be uniformly yellowish-brown or have a dark triangular wedge along the seams of each scute. The head, limbs and tail are greyish to yellowish-brown, with the front of each forelimb covered with large, angular scales and each thigh featuring several enlarged tubercles (2).
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Distribution

Continent: South-America
Distribution: SW Bolivia, W Paraguay,  NW Argentina (southward to about 40° S in N Patagonia)  
Type locality: Mendoza, “Chile”, Argentina  donosobarrosi: Argentina (Río Negro);
Type locality: San Antonio, Río Negro, Argentina.  petersi: Argentina (Santiago del Estero, La Rioja), Paraguay (S Chaco);
Type locality: Kishka, La Banda, Santiago del Estero, Argentina.
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Range

Native to Argentina and Paraguay, from the Bolivian border into western Paraguay and north-western Argentina (1) (2).
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Physical Description

Type Information

Paratype for Geochelone chilensis
Catalog Number: USNM 192962
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1971
Locality: Colonia 25 de Mayo, La Pampa, Argentina, South America
  • Paratype: Freiberg, M. A. 1973. Boletín de la Sociedad de Biología de Concepción. 46: 83.
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Holotype for Geochelone chilensis
Catalog Number: USNM 192961
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1971
Locality: San Antonio Oeste, Rio Negro, Argentina, South America
  • Holotype: Freiberg, M. A. 1973. Boletín de la Sociedad de Biología de Concepción. 46: 83.
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Paratype for Geochelone chilensis
Catalog Number: USNM 192960
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1971
Locality: Kishka, La Banda, Santiago del Estero, Argentina, South America
  • Paratype: Freiberg, M. A. 1973. Boletín de la Sociedad de Biología de Concepción. 46: 86.
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Holotype for Geochelone chilensis
Catalog Number: USNM 192959
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1971
Locality: Kishka, La Banda, Santiago del Estero, Argentina, South America
  • Holotype: Freiberg, M. A. 1973. Boletín de la Sociedad de Biología de Concepción. 46: 86.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Occurs in dry, sub-montane plains, deserts and semi-deserts with scrub and trees, from below sea-level to over 1,000 m (2).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chelonoidis chilensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A1cd

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Threats

The Chaco tortoise is collected from the wild and exploited for the pet trade and sometimes for food (2) (6). Juveniles have been captured and sold domestically as pets since the 1950s, but it was not until the 1980s that international demand began to grow, as trade in other tortoise species became progressively banned (6). Despite protection by national and provincial laws, 20,000 to 50,000 of these tortoises are estimated to be collected annually in Argentina for the domestic pet trade, mainly from the provinces of Córdoba and Santiago del Estero (2) (6). Additional threats include free-ranging livestock, which compete for food and trample both vegetation and tortoise burrows. Local burning practices may also impact populations by directly injuring or killing the tortoises, particularly juveniles, as well as reducing the overall diversity of plant foods available to the species (2). Like many other tortoises, the Chaco tortoise has a late onset of maturity and low reproductive rate, making diminished populations slow to recover (5).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is listed on CITES Appendix II.
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Conservation

The Chaco tortoise is listed on Appendix II of CITES, limiting and regulating its international trade (3).
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Wikipedia

Chaco tortoise

The Chaco tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis)[1] is a turtle from the family Testudinidae.[1]

Distribution[edit]

Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay.[1]

Subspecies[edit]

  • No subspecies[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rhodin 2012, p. 000.276
Bibliography
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