Chordates • Earth.com

Western pond turtle

(Actinemys marmorata)

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Description

The Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), also known commonly as the Pacific pond turtle is a species of small to medium-sized turtle in the family Emydidae. The species is endemic to the western coast of the United States and Mexico, ranging from western Washington state to northern Baja California. It was formerly found in Canada, but in May 2002, the Canadian Species at Risk Act listed the Pacific pond turtle as being extirpated. The dorsal color of A. marmorata is usually dark brown or dull olive, with or without darker reticulations or streaking. The plastron is yellowish, sometimes with dark blotches in the centers of the scutes. The straight carapace length is 11–21 cm (4.5–8.5 in). The carapace is low and broad, usually widest behind the middle, and in adults is smooth, lacking a keel or serrations. Adult western pond turtles are sexually dimorphic, with males having a light or pale yellow throat. The western pond turtle originally ranged from northern Baja California, Mexico, north to the southern regions of British Columbia, Canada. It was once a large part of a major fishery on Tulare Lake, California, supplying San Francisco with a local favorite, turtle soup, as well as feed for hogs that learned to dive for it in the shallows of Hog Island, also on Tulare Lake. As of 2007, it has become rare or absent in the Puget Sound region of Washington. It has a disjunct distribution in most of the Northwest, and some isolated populations exist in southern Washington. The western pond turtle is now rare in the Willamette Valley north of Eugene, Oregon, but abundance increases south of that city where temperatures are higher. It may be locally common in some streams, rivers and ponds in southern Oregon. A few records are reported east of the Cascade Mountains, but these may have been based on introduced individuals. It ranges up to 305 m (1,001 ft) in Washington, and to about 915 m (3,002 ft) in Oregon. It also occurs in Uvas Canyon area, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, and in the North Bay, and lakes such as Fountaingrove Lake. Many taxonomic authorities now split what had been considered one species of turtle into two species. The southern species is named Actinemys pallida, or the southwestern pond turtle. Its range is southern California and Mexico. The northern species remains Actinemys marmorata, with a range of northern California northward. It is then usually referred to as the northwestern pond turtle.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Reptilia
Order:Testudines
Family:Emydidae
Genus:Actinemys
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