Spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 11

Summary of Status Report

My recommendation is that the current species status of Threatened be maintained for the eastern spiny softshell. Substantial habitat loss in the past has restricted the distribution of this species to small, isolated areas within its former range. Habitat degradation through development and recreation may be further preventing the turtles from utilizing the whole of their habitat by blocking access to nest, hibernation, feeding and basking sites. In addition, dams and other structures on the Thames seem to have partially or completely isolated segments of the population. Some Ontario softshell populations appear to have skewed population demographics (many older adults and no juveniles or hatchlings). This could be the result of increasing nest site disturbance and high nest predation severely limiting, or even preventing, recruitment of juveniles in the Ontario populations. Adult mortality rates are likely higher than “normal” because of collisions with motorboats, trapping and incidental mortality from fisheries operators. With these significant threats to such small populations, it is clear that the eastern spiny softshell requires protection in Canada.

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