Blanding's turtle COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 11

Special Significance of the Species

Blanding’s Turtle is of biological significance because it is one of the longest lived freshwater turtles, with a lifespan exceeding 75 years (Congdon et al. 1993; Congdon et al. 2001; Ruben et al. 2001). Thus, the Blanding’s Turtle has been used in models of conservation and demography (Congdon et al . 1993), and to test competing hypotheses on why and how organisms age (Congdon et al. 2001, 2003). It is also the only living representative of the genus Emydoidea . Blanding’s Turtles have one of the smallest global ranges of Canadian reptiles, and a large portion of that global range (approximately 20%) is found in south-central Ontario and in Québec (Austen and Oldham 2001). This turtle is also considered at risk in the majority of its global range (NatureServe 2004). As such, the Blanding’s Turtle has been widely adopted as a “poster” species to publicize and educate on various issues including species at risk, conservation, wildlife protection, and conservation research. For example, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission raised funds for conservation, with a Blanding’s Turtle t-shirt. A Turtle Watch poster campaign, also in Nova Scotia, raised public awareness of turtles at risk, and this poster was later adapted for use in Québec. Similarly, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have used Blanding’s Turtles in education programs and road-crossing signs.

Blanding’s Turtles exhibit all the characteristics of a long-lived species, and it provides an excellent opportunity to study and create conservation strategies that are more effective at protecting long-lived species.

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