In the first range-wide population viability model for the northwestern and southwestern pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata and Actinemys pallida, respectively), a stage-based population projection matrix was assembled with 3 life stages: hatchling, juvenile, and adult. Vital rates were defined using biologically appropriate statistical distributions, with additional parametric uncertainty included for the adult survival parameter. A triple-loop stochastic simulation model was built around a population viability analysis to project pond turtle populations into the future. Initial abundance was calculated using available historical presence data and remotely sensed landscape condition metrics. A negative binomial regression was used to predict the relationship between abundance, habitat area, and human modification. Populations of pond turtles are dominated by adult individuals, so we applied a nonstable stage distribution to initial abundance values. Initial abundances of analysis units were variable across the species’ ranges, but all populations declined precipitously in the population projections. By the end of the century, the mean range-wide probability of extinction was 44.3% for the northwestern species and 57.8% for the southwestern species. Consistent with other long-lived chelonian species, population growth rate was most sensitive to adult survival, indicating that where possible, conservation efforts focusing on increasing or maintaining adult survival would benefit the species. Elasticity analysis indicated a bet-hedging life history strategy where long-term reproductive output is maximized through longevity, small clutches, and frequent reproductive bouts in the face of highly variable juvenile survival. The population dynamics presented here indicate that efforts to bolster adult survival would be most beneficial in terms of long-term population viability, which can inform targeted research and management. The feasibility of such efforts is an important consideration in conservation management for these long-lived species.

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