Spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 4
North American range
Apalone spinifera spinifera ranges from New York to Wisconsin, down the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, and north to southern Ontario and Quebec (Harding 1997; Figure 1). The centre of abundance and continuous distribution for this subspecies is the Mississippi River-Ohio River system and the lower Great Lakes (Bleakney 1958, Conant 1975).
Figure 1. Distribution of Apalone spinifera spinifera in North America (after Harding 1997).
In Canada, A. s. spinifera was formerly found throughout the lower Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence watershed from upper St. Lawrence to lower Lake Huron including some but not all tributaries. At present, the softshell turtle can only be found in isolated locales throughout this historic range and appears to have disappeared from about 16 sites where it has been observed (OHS, 2000). The Canadian population can be divided into two subpopulations. The first is located in the Ottawa River, St. Lawrence River, and the Richelieu River-Lake Champlain system, with the majority of individuals located in Lake Champlain (Figure 2). The second much larger subpopulation is located Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie (including major tributaries e.g. Thames and Sydenham Rivers), and western Lake Ontario. The majority of the individuals in this subpopulation can be found in the Thames and Sydenham Rivers and at two sites on Lake Erie (Rondeau and Long Point).
Figure 2. Distribution of A. s. spinifera in Ontario (Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary, 2000).
Figure 3. Distribution of A. s. spinifera in Quebec (after Bider and Matte 1996).
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