Articles on this page are available in 1 other language: Spanish (18) (learn more)

Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from Montana to southern Quebec, south to northern Mexico and the Florida panhandle. Disjunct populations exist in several areas around the periphery of the range. This turtle has been introduced in the Colorado-Gila river system and in New Jersey. It is also introduced and established in southeastern Virginia (Mitchell and Southwick, 1993, Brimleyana 18:99-102).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range Description

Apalone spinifera inhabits southernmost Ontario and Quebec in Canada, northern Mexico from Chihuahua to Tamaulipas, and most of the United States East of the Rocky Mountains. Occurs nearly throughout the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio system, as far upstream as Wyoming, the Great Lakes region, Ottawa, southern St.Lawrence and Hudson systems, the Colorado system, the Rio Grande system, Atlantic drainages from Cape Fear to the Saint Marys River, and Gulf drainages from the Appalachicola to the Rio Soto de Marina.

Apalone spinifera spinifera: Most of the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio and Great Lakes systems, with an isolated population in the Hudson valley.
Apalone spinifera atra: endemic to the Cuatro Cienegas basin of Coahuila, Mexico.
Apalone spinifera aspera: from southern North Carolina to Mississippi.
Apalone spinifera emoryi: Rio Grande - Pecos basin of Texas-New Mexico, USA, and Chihuahua to the Rio Soto de Marina in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Also inhabits the Colorado system of Arizona-California (and adjoining Utah, Nevada and New Mexico), documented to be introduced (Miller 1946, Iverson 1992, Ernst et al. 1994). Co-occurs with Apalone s. atra in the Cuatro Cienegas basin, where it prefers riverine sections (Webb and Legler 1960).
Apalone spinifera guadalupensis: Central Texas.
Apalone spinifera pallida: Louisiana, northeastern Texas and southern Oklahoma.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Geographic Range

Spiny softshell turtles occupy areas from central-eastern U.S. (western New York and southern Carolina) to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and southern Ontario, and as far south as Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Conant, R., J. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians; Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co..
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Geographic Range

Apalone spinifera occupies areas from central-eastern U.S. (western New York and southern Carolina) to Wisconsin and from Minnesota and southern Ontario as far south as Mexico. The eastern spiny soft-shell turtle (A. spinifera spinifera) occupies the ranges from western New York to Wisconsin south to the Tennessee River, with a population in the lower part of Canada, by the Ottawa River. The Western spiny soft-shell (A. spinifera hartwegi) occupies territory that ranges from Minnesota to Arkansas west to south east Wyoming, eastern Colorado, and north eastern New Mexico, with a large population in the Missouri River drainage in Montana. The Gulf spiny soft-shell turtle (A. spinifera aspera) can be found from northern Carolina to Alabama and south to the northern tip of Florida. The Guadalupe subspecies (A. spinifera guadalupensis) can be found from south central Texas to the Colorado river system. The Pallid subspecies (A. spinifera pallida) can be found in western Louisiana to southern Oklahoma, and most of the northern and eastern parts of Texas. The Texas subspecies (A. spinifera emoryi) occupies the Rio Grande to the Pecos river drainages and south to Rio Purificacion, Tamaulipas and also from southwest new Mexico and south west Utah to the Gulf of California with an isolated population in eastern central Arizona (Conant and Collins 1998).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Conant, R., J. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians; Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co..
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Continent: Middle-America North-America
Distribution: USA (NW Vermont, W New York, W Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, NW Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, SE California, S Nevada, SW Utah, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Jersey),  Canada (S Ontario, Quebec),  Mexico (N Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and E Chihuahua, Baja California, Morelos)  
Type locality: "Newharmony, sur le Wabash" (= New Harmony, Wabash River), Posey County, Indiana, U.S.A.  ater: Mexico (Coahuila: basin of Cuatro Ciénegas).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Peter Uetz

Source: The Reptile Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Spiny softshell turtles have soft, flat, rounded carapaces (shells) without large scales. The edges are soft with small spines. The nose is long and upturned. The underbelly is whitish or yellow with bones visible underneath. They have claws and their feet are webbed for swimming. The body is olive or tan with black speckles and a dark rim around the edge of their shell. Adult males have olive and yellow coloration on their carapaces, with black "eyespots", and a thicker tail tham females. Males are also smaller than females, with a shell length of 12.7 to 24 cm. Females are 24 to 48 cm in length, with dark carapace and a small tail that doesn't go beyond the edge of their carapaces.

Range length: 12.7 to 48 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Spiny softshell turtles have soft, flat, rounded carapaces without scutes. The edges are pliable with small spines, in the eastern subspecies the spines are toward the front of the carapace. Some subspecies have the spines on the posterior part of the carapace (A. s. pallida) while some have them on most parts of the carapace (Behler and King 1998). The nose is long, tapered, and upturned at the end with ridges (Harding 1997). Unlike gulf spiny soft-shell turtles (A. s. aspera), with two distinct black-bordered yellow stripes on each side of the head that come together before the long neck, eastern spiny soft-shell turtles (A. spinifera spinifera) have two black-bordered yellow stripes that travel along the neck and do not connect (Conant and Collins 1998). The plastron is whitish or yellow with bones visible underneath. They have claws and their feet are webbed for swimming. The body is olive or tan with black speckles and a dark rim around the edge of their carapace. In A. s. aspera two or more dark lines can be found bordering the rear margin of the shell and in A. s. pallida, the black ring is lacking. Some subspecies have whitish spots on their whole carapace, the posterior half of their carapace, or on the rear third of their carapace, these subspecies being A. s. guadalupe, A. s. pallida, and A. s. emoryi respectively. These characteristics intergrade where hybrid zones occur. There is some sexual dimorphism. Adult males retain the juvenile's olive and yellow coloration with black "eyespots", have a slightly rougher carapace than females, and are smaller than females, with a carapace length of 12.7 to 24 cm. Males also have longer and thicker tails that females. The carapace of females darkens during adulthood and becomes a mottled gray. The length ranges from 24 to 48 cm and the tail barely extends past the edge of her carapace.

Range length: 12.7 to 48 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Size

Length: 46 cm

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type Information

Lectotype; Syntype for Apalone spinifera emoryi
Catalog Number: USNM 7855
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Juvenile
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Brownsville, Cameron, Texas, United States, North America
  • Lectotype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.; Syntype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Paralectotype; Syntype for Apalone spinifera emoryi
Catalog Number: USNM 7642
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Brownsville, Cameron, Texas, United States, North America
  • Paralectotype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.; Syntype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Paralectotype; Syntype for Apalone spinifera emoryi
Catalog Number: USNM 7638
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Juvenile
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Rio Bravo (= Rio Grande), Locality In Multiple Counties, Texas, United States, North America
  • Paralectotype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.; Syntype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Paralectotype; Syntype for Apalone spinifera emoryi
Catalog Number: USNM 7637
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Juvenile
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Rio Bravo (= Rio Grande), Locality In Multiple Counties, Texas, United States, North America
  • Paralectotype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.; Syntype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Paralectotype; Syntype for Apalone spinifera emoryi
Catalog Number: USNM 131841
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Juvenile
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Brownsvilie, Cameron, Texas, United States, North America
  • Paralectotype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.; Syntype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Paralectotype; Syntype for Apalone spinifera emoryi
Catalog Number: USNM 7644
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Juvenile
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Brownsville, Cameron, Texas, United States, North America
  • Paralectotype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.; Syntype: Webb, R. G. 1962. Univ. Kansas Publ., Mus. Nat. Hist. 13 (10): 510.; Agassiz, L. 1857. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, Volume 1, Part 2, North American Testudinata. 1: 407.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Montana valley and foothill grasslands ecoregions, along with some other North American ecoregions. This ecoregion occupies high valleys and foothill regions in the central Rocky Mountains of Montana in the USA and Alberta, Canada. The ecoregion the uppermost flatland reaches of the Missouri River drainage involving part of the Yellowstone River basin, and extends into the Clark Fork-Bitterroot drainage of the Columbia River system. The ecoregion, consisting of three chief disjunctive units, also extends marginally into a small portion of northern Wyoming. Having moderate vertebrate species richness, 321 different vertebrate taxa have been recorded here.

The dominant vegetation type of this ecoregion consists chiefly of wheatgrass (Agropyron spp.) and fescue (Festuca spp.). Certain valleys, notably the upper Madison, Ruby, and Red Rock drainages of southwestern Montana, are distinguished by extensive sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) communities as well. This is a reflection of semi-arid conditions caused by pronounced rain shadow effects and high elevation. Thus, near the Continental Divide in southwestern Montana, the ecoregion closely resembles the nearby Snake/Columbia shrub steppe.

A number of mammalian species are found in the ecoregion, including: American Pika (Ochotona princeps), a herbivore preferring talus habitat; Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis), Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), who live in underground towns that may occupy vast areas; Brown Bear (Ursos arctos); Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata), a species who selects treeless meadows and talus as habitat; and the Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis), a species that can tolerate fresh or brackish water and builds its den in the disused burrows of other animals.

There are six distinct anuran species that can be found in the Montana valleys and foothills grasslands, including: Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys); Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas); Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens); Plains Spadefoot Toad (Spea bombifrons); Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris), an anuran that typically breeds in shallow quiet ponds; and the Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata).

Exactly two amphibian taxa occurr in the ecoregion: Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), a species who prefers lentic waters and spends most of its life hidden under bark or soil; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

Reptilian species within the ecoregion are: Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum), an adaptable taxon that can be found on rocky slopes, prairie and near streambeds; Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta); Western Plains Garter Snake (Thamnophis radix), a taxon that can hibernate in the burrows of rodents or crayfish or even hibernate underwater; Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor); Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera); Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans); Rubber Boa (Charina bottae); Western Skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus); and the Western Rattlesnake (Crotalis viridis).

The ecoregion supports endemic and relict fisheries: Westslope Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi), Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri), and fluvial Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus), a relict species from past glaciation.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© C. Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund

Supplier: C. Michael Hogan

Trusted

Article rating from 1 person

Average rating: 5.0 of 5

Comments: Habitat includes large rivers, river impoundments, lakes, ponds along rivers, pools along intermittent streams, bayous, oxbows; usually in areas with open sandy or mud banks and soft bottom. These turtles bask on shores or on partially submerged logs. Periods of inactivity are spent burrowed in bottom sediments in well-oxygenated sites. Eggs are laid in nests dug in open areas in sand, gravel, or soft soil near water.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Apalone spinifera is a generalist aquatic species that inhabits almost any type of permanent waterbody, from fast-flowing large rivers to lakes and reservoirs to small marshy creeks, farm ponds and desert springs. A soft bottom with some aquatic vegetation appears required, as are sand bars or mudbanks for basking, while accumulations of underwater debris are preferred microhabitat (Ernst et al. 1994).

Spiny Softshells are predominantly carnivorous, feeding on crayfish and other crustaceans, fish (carrion and small live fish), insects (aquatic larvae and fallen adults), other aquatic invetrtebrates, and some vegetable matter (reviews in Webb 1962, Ernst et al. 1994).

Males mature at relatively small size (8-10 cm plastron length/about 11-14 cm carapace length (CL), 130 grams or more), while females mature at CL over 28 cm (Webb, 1962:562). Maximum size of females is 54 cm CL, males maximum 21.6 cm. Maximum longevity is probably well over 30 years (Breckenridge 1955, in Ernst et al. 1994). Females normally produce two clutches per year, nesting mainly in June and July. Clutches usually comprise 12-18 eggs, extremes of clutch size are 4-39 (review by Ernst et al. 1994).

Apalone spinifera atra: Restricted to the Cuatro Cienegas basin, an hourglass-shaped intermontane basin of about 50 km long and 8-24 km wide (about 600 km2), its floor being at 720 m altitude. Much of the central part of the basin is marshy, with dry sandy slopes leading up the rocky valley slopes. A number of deep (up to several meters) ponds occur within the marshy area, and retain crystal-clear water throughout the year. About half the bottom is covered by dense submerged aquatic vegetation (mainly Chara), the other half is bare sediment. Waterlilies grow in the shallow parts, and thick stands of cattails (Typha) and Eleocharis fringe the ponds. Water temp is about 27-29 degrees C. Ponds may be separated from dry nesting areas on the slopes by substantial distances (several 100 m.) of flat marshy grassland. (Webb and Legler 1960). Within the basin, A. s. atra has been recorded only within the deep ponds, but not in riverine situations (Webb and Legler 1960, Webb 1962). Limited information of food indicates that the animals feed selectively on aquatic insect larvae (Webb and Legler 1960). Reproductive data on dissected type series (limited to smaller individuals) suggest that A. s. atra matures at similar sizes as other spinifera subspecies (Webb and Legler 1960), i.e. males mature at CL over 15 cm, and females at CL over 28 cm. No information is available on clutch size or frequency, on age at maturity, or longevity of atra.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Spiny softshell turtles inhabit various freshwater sources such as rivers, lakes, marshes, farm ponds, as well as bays of the Great Lakes. They prefer open habitats with a small amount of vegetation and a sandy or muddy bottom and require sandy raised nesting areas close to water.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

  • Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Behler, J., F. King. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Apalone spinifera inhabits various freshwater systems such as rivers, lakes, marshes, farm ponds (Behler and King 1998) as well as bays of the Great Lakes . Apalone spinifera prefers open habitats with a small amount of vegetation and a sandy or muddy bottom and require sandy raised nesting areas close to water (Harding 1997).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

  • Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Behler, J., F. King. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Migration

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.

In Vermont, softshells migrated about 3 km between riverine wintering sites and river mouth nesting sites near Lake Champlain; migratory movements were most extensive in spring and late summer (Graham and Graham 1997).

In northern Lake Champlain, Quebec-Vermont, annual home range size was 1.8-110.3 (mean 32.1) sq km in 11 females and 0.4-6.9 (mean 2.8) sq km in 4 males; linear home range size was 5.6-25.0 (mean 13.7) km in females and 1.4-6.3 (mean 3.9) km in males (Galois et al. 2002). Usually the distance between the two most distant points for an individual reflected the distance between spring-summer and fall-winter activity centers (Galois et al. 2002). A female in that area nested more than 30 km from its wintering area (Daigle et al. 2002).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Trophic Strategy

Comments: Major foods are crayfish, other crustaceans, insects, mollusks, worms, fishes (small live ones), amphibians, carrion, and sometimes vegetation (Webb 1962, Ernst and Lovich 2009).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Food Habits

Spiny softshell turtles prey on invertebrates such as aquatic insects, crayfish, and occasionally preys upon fish. They find their food underneath objects, along the floor of the lake, and in vegetation. They also hide in the floor substrate and grab prey as it swims by.

Animal Foods: amphibians; fish; insects; mollusks; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Food Habits

Apalone spinifera preys on on various macroinvertebrates such as aquatic insects, crayfish, and occasionally a fish. They find their food underneath objects, along the floor of the lake, and in vegetation. They also hide in the floor substrate and grab prey as they swim by (Harding 1997).

Animal Foods: amphibians; fish; insects; mollusks; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Spiny softshell turtles are important members of the ecosystems where they live. They prey on aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Predation

Spiny softshell turtle nests are often destroyed by raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Young softshell turtles are eaten by raccoons, herons, and large fish. Adults are killed and eaten only by humans, they have few natural predators.  When bothered, spiny softshell turtles will extend their long necks and snap viciously at their attacker, inflicting a painful bite. They are shy and will quickly dive and hide under mud and sand to avoid predators.

Known Predators:

  • raccoons (Procyon_lotor)
  • striped skunks (Mephitis_mephitis)
  • red foxes (Vulpes_vulpes)
  • herons (Ardeidae)
  • large predatory fish (Actinopterygii)
  • humans (Homo_sapiens)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecosystem Roles

Spiny softshell turtles are important predators in aquatic systems, impacting populations of crustaceans and aquatic insects.

Spiny softshell turtles are important members of the ecosystems where they live. They prey on aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Predation

Spiny softshell turtle nests are often destroyed by raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Young softshell turtles are eaten by raccoons, herons, and fish. Adults are killed and eaten only by humans, they have few natural predators.  When bothered, spiny softshell turtles will extend their long necks and snap viciously at their attacker, inflicting a painful bite. They are wary and can hide themselves quickly.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 - 300

Comments: The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined using standardized criteria, but this turtle occurs in a very large number of stream systems.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Abundance

10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000. This turtle is locally common in many areas.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Spiny softshell turtles use their sense of vision and touch to find prey.

Communication Channels: tactile

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; vibrations ; chemical

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Communication and Perception

Spiny softshell turtles use their sense of vision and touch to find prey. When they mate they respond to tactile stimulation.

Communication Channels: tactile

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; vibrations ; chemical

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Cyclicity

Comments: Activity occurs primarily from April or May to October in the north and at higher elevations (Vogt 1981, Hammerson 1999). Some nocturnal activity may occur in summer.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life Cycle

Development

Sex is not determined by temperature variations in Apalone spinifera.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Development

Sex is not determined by temperature variations in A. spinifera.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Estimated longevity in spiny softshell turtles is up to fifty years in a large female.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
50 (high) years.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Lifespan/Longevity

Estimated longevity in spiny softshell turtles is up to fifty years in a large female.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
50 (high) years.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25.2 years (captivity) Observations: One wild caught animal was estimated as being 53 years old (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/neparc/).
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

Source: AnAge

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Reproduction

Reproductive females deposit one or more (usually two) clutches of usually 12-18 eggs (extremes 4-39), May to August (June and July in most areas) (Webb 1962, Ernst and Lovich 2009). Eggs hatch August-October; some hatchlings may overwinter in the nest and emerge in spring.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

In courtship, males nudge the female's head while swimming and if she chooses to mate, the male will swim above the female without clasping her with his claws (unlike most other turtles).

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Spiny softshell turtles reach adulthood between the ages of 8 to 10 years old. They mate in mid to late spring in deep water. Female spiny softshell turtles lay their clutches along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a cavity that they dig close to water as quickly as possible (usually within an hour). Spiny softshell turtles sometimes nest more than once during a season. They lay between 9 and 38 round eggs which hatch from August to September. Clutches can even incubate through the winter and hatch in the spring.

Breeding interval: Breeding occurs once yearly, sometimes several times in a year.

Breeding season: Spiny softshell turtles mate in mid to late spring.

Range number of offspring: 9 to 38.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8 to 10 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8 to 10 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Females give their eggs enough nutrients for development and put them into a safe nest. Once the eggs are laid there is no more parental care.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Behler, J., F. King. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
  • Conant, R., J. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians; Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co..
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

In courtship, males nudge the female's head while swimming and if she chooses to mate, the male will swim above the female without clasping her with his claws (unlike most other turtles).

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Spiny softshell turtles sexually mature between the ages of 8 to 10 years. They mate in mid to late spring in deep water. Apalone spinifera females lay clutches along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a flask-shaped cavity that they dig close to water as quickly as possible (usually within an hour). Spiny softshell turtles sometimes nest more than once during a single season. Females lay between 9 and 38 round calcareous-shelled eggs. The eggs hatch around August and September. Clutches can even incubate through the winter and hatch in the spring.

Breeding interval: Breeding occurs once yearly, sometimes several times in a year.

Breeding season: Spiny softshell turtles mate in mid to late spring.

Range number of offspring: 9 to 38.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8 to 10 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8 to 10 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Females invest energy into supplying their eggs with nutrients for development and deposit them into a safe nest. Once the eggs are laid there is no further parental investment.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Behler, J., F. King. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..
  • Conant, R., J. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians; Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co..
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Apalone spinifera

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Large range in eastern, central, and southwestern North America; many occurrences; locally common; no evidence of substantial declines.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
van Dijk, P.P.

Reviewer/s
Horne, B.D., Mittermeier, R.A., Philippen, H.-D., Quinn, H.R., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B. & Vogt, R.C

Contributor/s
Flores-Villela, O., Hammerson, G.A., Lavin, P. & Mendoza-Quijano, F.

Justification
Widespread, cryptic and locally common species with an adaptable life history and high reproductive potential by turtle standards. Harvest rates appear not significant enough to have led to documented localised declines. It is listed as Least Concern.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Populations of spiny softshell turtles are damaged by Rotenone, a chemical designed to kill fish. Habitat destruction and shoreline development continues to threaten nesting sites.  They are not listed as endangered, vulnerable, or threatened by the IUCN, CITES, or the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Because A. spinifera respire aquatically with pharyngeal gill slits and cloaca, they are vulnerable to Rotenone, a chemical that is used to kill unwanted fish. Rotenone hinders oxygen absorption and many soft shell turtles are now gone from Rotenone contaminated waters in the Great Lakes. Habitat fragmentation and shoreline development continues to threaten nesting sites. Along with other turtles, A. spinifera is hunted or shot for "fun" and human consumption. Eggs, hatchlings, and juveniles are threatened by various human activities and vulnerable to predators such as raccoons, foxes, and skunks, all of which thrive in areas of human development. They are not listed as endangered, vulnerable, or threatened by the IUCN, CITES, or the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is unknown but likely stable or slowly declining.

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
A widespread and generally common species. Depending on site and habitat type, Spiny Softshells constitute between less than 1% to 67% numerically of all turtles encountered in turtle community surveys (reviews in Ernst et al. 1994, Ernst and Lovich 2009).

Apalone spinifera emoryi was considered common in the Rio Florida and Lago Toronto in Coahuila, Mexico, in 1958 (Williams et al. 1960). The subspecies emoryi has apparently a substantial capacity for establishing itself in new areas, if its occurrence in the Colorado rivers system and the Cuatro Cienegas basin are indeed based on introductions.

Apalone spinifera atra: While quantitative data are not available, Apalone s. atra was not rare in the 1950s: ‘the heads of several [A.s.] ater could usually be seen at dusk by scanning the surface of the pond with binoculars’ (Webb and Legler 1960). No recent population data have been made widely available. In recent years it was considered a rare species, Smith and Smith (1979) considered it was extinct due to hybridization, but Flores-Villela (pers. comm. 2005) collected the species around 1990.

The morphological continuity between ater and emoryi after some generations in sympatry have variously been interpreted as intergradation between subspecies of Apalone spinifera, or as hybridisation between two species that were not reproductively isolated (Webb and Legler 1960, Webb 1962, Smith and Smith 1979, McGaugh 2008, McGaugh and Janzen 2008, McGaugh et al. 2008).

Population Trend
Stable
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: "While Apalone spinifera has long been exploited for local consumption (Webb 1962) and more recently for export of adults for food and of hatchlings as pets and for Asian farming operations, and some individuals are destroyed as nuisance by-catch by recreational fishermen, are run over when crossing roads, and populations are affected by pollution, water diversion, and water infrastructure development, the species as a whole is not threatened in its existence by present processes." Source: van Dijk (2010).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Major Threats
While Apalone spinifera has long been exploited for local consumption (Webb 1962) and more recently for export of adults for food and of hatchlings as pets and for Asian farming operations, and some individuals are destroyed as nuisance by-catch by recreational fishermen, are run over when crossing roads, and populations are affected by pollution, water diversion, and water infrastructure development, the species as a whole is not threatened in its existence by present processes. However, certain subspecies and populations are considered to be less secure.

Apalone spinifera spinifera: The Lake Champlain and Hudson River valley populations are considered to warrant conservation attention.

Apalone spinifera atra: Main recorded threat is hybridisation or intergradation with Apalone spinifera emoryi, which entered the Cuatro Cienegas basin from the Rio Grande through the Rio Nadadores and Rio Salado. A number of previously isolated ponds and wetlands had been drained and interconnected by a network of canals before 1960 (probably before 1920) for agricultural purposes (Webb and Legler 1960, Smith and Smith 1979), but apparently not connected to the Rio Chiquito. How emoryi transferred from the Rio Nadadores to the isolated ponds is unclear; Webb (1962) considered overland dispersal during rain, subterranean connections, and human transport as possibilities. Apalone spinifera emoryi was present in the Cuatro Cienegas basin as early as 1938-39 (Schmidt and Owens 1944); specimens of both forms collected in 1958 were clearly separable (Webb and Legler 1960) and apparently showed no indication of hybridisation at least 20 years after first contact. However, Webb (1962) subsequently noted that not all atra showed all diagnosic characteristics, and that some approached the condition shown in emoryi. Within the basin, emoryi shows a preference for riverine situations, with only few individuals recorded from ponds (Webb and Legler 1960, Webb 1962). Some trade and consumption of softshell turtles has occurred in the Cuatro Cienegas basin at least in the 1950s (Webb 1962). The survival of atra is dependent on the ecological and hydrological integrity of the relatively small Cuatro Cienegas ecosystem. The Cuatro Cienegas basin has been extensively altered in its hydrology by digging canals to supply water to a steel mill in Monclova, and for local agricultural irrigation. Roads, railroads, pipelines and other infrastructure for industrial, logistic and tourism and recreational purposes have impacted the ecosystem, and some of these environmental impacts continue. Roads have created direct-mortality impacts. (Groombridge 1982, and references therein). Provided no further major engineering works impact the ecological integrity of the Cuatro Cienegas basin, and the protected area regulations are adhered to, atra has probably surmounted its worst environmental impacts.

Apalone spinifera emoryi
: Populations in Mexico are impacted by water diversion and reduced groundwater levels from irrigation and groundwater pumping.

Apalone spinifera guadalupensis: The status of populations of this Texas endemic are apparently poorly known.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Apalone spinifera as a whole is managed as a non-game resource in much of the USA, and occurs in a wide variety of sites and habitats under various degrees of protective measures. Better understanding of harvest levels and population dynamics, and population monitoring, would be welcome. Conservation assessments for the subspecies guadalupensis should be carried out as a matter of priority.

Introduced population of emoryi in the Colorado River basin is probably beyond control.

Apalone spinifera atra is included in Appendix I of CITES, prohibiting any form of commercial international trade, and is protected from exploitation under Mexican wildlife and natural resource legislation. Its entire range falls within the 843 km2. Cuatro Cienegas Flora and Fauna Protection Area (IUCN Category VI), established in 1994. Much more information on the species’ natural history is urgently needed, and an investigation of the ecological and genetic effects of the presence/invasion of A. spinifera emoryi in Cuatro Cienegas is a top priority.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

It was once thought that spiny softshell turtles damaged game fish populations. However, all data shows that these animals have no impact on game fish populations or humans whatsoever. If handled, they can aggressively defend themselves and inflict painful bites.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

In some areas these turtles are harvested as food for humans.

Positive Impacts: food

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

It was once thought that spiny softshell turtles damaged game fish populations. However, all data shows that these animals have no impact on game fish populations or humans whatsoever. If handled, they can aggressively defend themselves and inflict painful bites.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings)

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Spiny softshell turtles are sometimes marketed for human consumption and some places have made laws dealing with catch limits, catch seasons, as well as size limitations.

Positive Impacts: food

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Spiny softshell turtle

The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. They get their name from the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of their carapaces, which are not scutes (scales).

Geographic range[edit]

The spiny softshell has a wide range, extending throughout much of the United States, as well as north into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and south into the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila and Chihuahua.[1]

Taxonomy[edit]

The species was first described by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1827.[1] It has been redescribed numerous times, leading to some confusion in its taxonomy.[3] The recognized subspecies differ in the markings on the carapace, on the sides of the head, and on the feet. However, these markings, which are distinct in hatchlings, fade as the turtles grow larger. Adult females of the various subspecies, which grow larger than males, are not easily distinguishable from one another, and sometimes can only be assigned to a particular subspecies based on geography.[4]

Reproduction[edit]

Spiny softshells begin mating between ages 8 and 10. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. The turtles mate in mid-to-late spring in deep water. The male will nudge the female's head while swimming, and if she chooses to mate, the male will swim above the female without clasping her with his claws (unlike other turtles). A few months later, the female turtle quickly lays her eggs along a sunny sandbar or gravel bank in a flask-shaped cavity she has dug close to the water. The turtle nests more than once during a single season. She can lay between 9 and 38 round, calcareous-shelled eggs. The eggs are laid around August and September, and they hatch in the spring. Unlike in other turtles, in the spiny softshell turtle, the sex of the hatchlings is not determined by temperature variations; it is determined by genetics.[5]

Subspecies[edit]

Six subspecies of Apalone spinifera are recognized, including the nominate subspecies:[6]

A previously recognized subspecies, Apalone spinifera hartwegi (Conant & Goin, 1941), has been synonymized to A. s. spinifera as of 2011.[1]

Genomics[edit]

A rough draft assembly of the A. spinifera aspera genome was completed in 2013 by The Genome Institute at Washington University - St. Louis. The assembly ASM38561v1 can be accessed via it's Genbank accession ID APJP00000000.1 [1]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rhodin 2011, p. 000.206
  2. ^ Fritz 2007, pp. 306–310
  3. ^ California Turtle & Tortoise Club: Softshell Turtles
  4. ^ Conant, R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 429 pp. (Softshell Turtles: Family Trionychidae, pp. 76-77.)
  5. ^ Greenbaum, Eli and John L. Carr. 2001. Sexual Differentiation in the Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera), a Species With Genetic Sex Determination. Journal of Experimental Biology 290: 190-200.
  6. ^ "Apalone spinifera". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Species Apalone spinifera at The Reptile Database
Bibliography

Further reading[edit]

  • Lesueur, C.A. 1827. Note sur deux espèces de tortues, du genre Trionyx de M[onsieur]. Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. Mémoires du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Paris 15: 257-268.
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Pallid spiny softshell turtle

The Pallid spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera pallida) is a subspecies of softshell turtle native to the United States, in the states of Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas.

References

  1. ^ Fritz 2007, pp. 306–310


Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: This species was removed from genus Trionyx and placed in genus Apalone by Meylan (1987). North American softshell turtles were retained in Trionyx by Webb (1990) and Ernst et al. (1994). Subsequently, most authorities have accepted Apalone as the generic name for North American softshell turtles

Molecular data indicate a genetic dichotomy between populations north and west of Louisiana (exclusive of basal Rio Grande drainage populations) and populations from the Gulf Coast in southeastern North America (Weisrock and Janzen 2000).

McGaugh et al. (2008) examined the deep lineage divide (based on mtDNA data) between southeastern + northern subspecies (A. s. aspera + A. s. hartwegi + A. s. spinifera) and western subspecies (A. s. pallida + A. s. emoryi + A. s. guadalupensis) with broader sampling and using mitochondrial and nuclear markers. The southeastern + northern clade and the western clade maintained mitochondrial reciprocal monophyly, but nuclear loci showed no phylogenetic resolution and suggested that taxonomic elevation of the two mitochondrial clades would be currently unjustified. Genetic data did not support the subspecific distinction between A. s. spinifera and A. s. hartwegi; McGaugh et al. (2008) suggested that the two taxa be lumped (as A. s. spinifera).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!