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Turtles of the World Checklist

Download pdf (2012 Checklist 000.v5)

Turtles of the World, 2012 Update:
Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status

Turtle Taxonomy Working Group*

*Authorship of this article is by this working group of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group,
which for the purposes of this document consisted of the following contributors:

Peter Paul van Dijk1, John B. Iverson2,
H. Bradley Shaffer
3, Roger Bour4, and Anders G.J. Rhodin5

1Co-Chair, IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group,
Conservation International, 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, Virginia 22202 USA [p.vandijk@conservation.org];

2Department of Biology, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA [johni@earlham.edu];
3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Institute of the Environment and Sustainability,
University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095 USA [brad.shaffer@ucla.edu];

4Laboratoire des Reptiles et Amphibiens, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France [bour.roger@gmail.com];
5Chairman Emeritus, IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group,
Chelonian Research Foundation, 168 Goodrich St., Lunenburg, Massachusetts 01462 USA [rhodincrf@aol.com]


Abstract. – This is our 6th annual compilation of an annotated checklist of all recognized and named taxa of the world’s modern chelonian fauna, documenting recent changes and controversies in nomenclature, and including all primary synonyms, updated from our previous five checklists (Turtle Taxonomy Working Group 2007b, 2009, 2010, 2011; Rhodin et al. 2008). We continue to provide an updated comprehensive listing of important aspects of taxonomy, names, distribution, and conservation status of all turtles and tortoises of the world. We strive to record the most recent justified taxonomic assignment of terminal taxa in a hierarchical framework, providing annotations, including alternative possible arrangements, for some recently proposed changes. We provide common English names and detailed distributional data for all taxa, listing occurrence by countries and many smaller political or geographic subunits (states or regions), including indications of native, extirpated, and introduced (modern or prehistoric) populations. We also include current published and draft IUCN Red List status determinations for all turtles, as well as CITES listings. The diversity of turtles and tortoises in the world that has existed in modern times (since 1500 AD), and currently generally recognized as distinct and included on this checklist, now consists of 331 species. Of these, 56 are polytypic, representing 121 additional recognized subspecies, or 452 total taxa of modern turtles and tortoises. Of these, 9 species and 2 subspecies, or 11 taxa (2.4%), are extinct. As of the current IUCN 2012 Red List, 134 turtle species (58.8% of 228 species listed, 40.5% of all 331 recognized species) are officially regarded as globally Threatened (Critically Endangered [CR], Endangered [EN], or Vulnerable [VU]). We record additional draft Red List evaluations by the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) of the 103 previously “unevaluated” species, and updated draft re-evaluations of  previously listed species, allowing us to evaluate the overall current threat levels for all turtles and tortoises. Of the 331 total species of turtles and tortoises, 101 (30.5%) are CR or EN, 155 (46.8%) are Threatened (CR, EN, or VU), and 164 (49.6%) are Threatened or Extinct. If we provisionally adjust for predicted threat rates of Data Deficient species, then ca. 53% of all turtles are Threatened. If we include Extinct species, and also adjust for Data Deficient species, then ca. 57% of all modern turtles and tortoises are either already Extinct or Threatened. Turtles are among the most endangered of the major groups of vertebrates, surpassing birds, mammals, cartilaginous or bony fishes, and amphibians.

Key Words. – Reptilia, Testudines, turtle, tortoise, chelonian, taxonomy, nomenclature, genera, species, subspecies, primary synonyms, suprageneric hierarchy, systematics, common names, distribution, introduced species, conservation status, IUCN Red List, CITES, threatened species, extinction



Turtle Taxonomy Working Group [van Dijk, P.P., Iverson, J.B., Shaffer, H.B., Bour, R., and Rhodin, A.G.J.]. 2012. Turtles of the world, 2012 update: annotated checklist of taxonomy, synonymy, distribution, and conservation status. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 000.243–000.328, doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v5.2012, www.iucn–tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Literature Cited

Link to Online Turtle Taxonomic Literature Database
consisting of 
(1) All Primary Taxonomic Literature
(2) Additional Literature cited in Checklist Introduction and Annotations
from this and all our earlier checklists

Downloadable pdf's of Previously Published Checklists Available Here

Turtle Taxonomy Working Group 2011 (Checklist 000.v4)

Turtle Taxonomy Working Group 2010 (Checklist 000.v3)

Turtle Taxonomy Working Group 2009 (Checklist 000.v2)

Rhodin et al. 2008 (Checklist 000.v1)

Turtle Taxonomy Working Group 2007b

Fritz and Havas 2007