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J Environ Manage. 2001 Aug;62(4):443-55.

Stream and riparian management for freshwater turtles.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65201, USA.


The regulation and management of stream ecosystems worldwide have led to irreversible loss of wildlife species. Due to recent scrutiny of water policy and dam feasibility, there is an urgent need for fundamental research on the biotic integrity of streams and riparian zones. Although riverine turtles rely on stream and riparian zones to complete their life cycle, are vital producers and consumers, and are declining worldwide, they have received relatively little attention. I review the literature on the impacts of contemporary stream management on freshwater turtles. Specifically, I summarize and discuss 10 distinct practices that produce five potential biological repercussions. I then focus on the often-overlooked use of riparian zones by freshwater turtles, calculate a biologically determined riparian width, and offer recommendations for ecosystem management. Migration data were summarized on 10 species from eight US states and four countries. A riparian zone encompassing the majority of freshwater turtle migrations would need to span 150 m from the stream edge. Freshwater turtles primarily chose high, open sandy habitats to nest. Nests in North America contained eggs and hatchlings during April through September and often through the winter. In addition, freshwater turtles utilized diverse riparian habitats for feeding, nesting, and overwintering. Additional documentation of stream and riparian habitat use by turtles is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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