Abstract

We present updated accounts on the status and distribution of all known species of freshwater turtles in the Philippines, including information on taxonomy, natural history, exploitation, and conservation status. Six species of native nonmarine turtles (Dogania subplana, Pelochelys cantorii, Cuora amboinensis, Cyclemys dentata, Heosemys spinosa, and Siebenrockiella leytensis) are recognized from the Philippines, 2 of which are trionychids and 4 are geoemydids. One of these (S. leytensis) is an endemic species. There is some evidence to suggest that Philippine populations of P. cantorii, C. amboinensis, C. dentata, and H. spinosa may warrant further taxonomic study. The fauna also includes 3 introduced species (Pelodiscus sinensis, Trachemys scripta elegans, and Chrysemys picta). Pelodiscus sinensis, D. subplana, C. amboinensis, and S. leytensis feature prominently in the domestic food and pet trade. Preliminary information indicates that these species are also illegally exported to supply international animal markets. The lack of basic information on the natural history of freshwater turtles in the Philippines stands as an obstacle to the implementation of effective conservation and management measures. We recommend that a national program for Philippine freshwater turtles be established to address priorities for research, conservation, and management of this threatened and poorly studied faunal assemblage.

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