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Range-wide population projections for Northern Red-Bellied Cooters (Pseudemys rubriventris)

October 6, 2022

Northern Red-Bellied Cooters (Pseudemys rubriventris) have a disjunct distribution with a relictual population in southeastern Massachusetts and a larger range across the mid-Atlantic United States. The relictual population is currently listed with protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act but the status of the population in the remainder of the species' range has not been assessed, and there is concern that it may be at risk of extinction without protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires scientific information of the species' status to inform conservation decisions. There is little empirical information available from P. rubriventris populations and, furthermore, the majority of what exists comes from the disjunct northern subpopulation. To fill data gaps in the species' life history and reduce geographic bias, we supplement available data from P. rubriventris with demographic rate estimates from other Pseudemys species to parameterize an age-structured population projection model. Our estimate of mean population growth rate was 0.987 (0.92–1.04), indicating that P. rubriventris populations may be in decline. However, there was considerable uncertainty in our results, with 35% of projections resulting in stable or increasing populations. Additional uncertainty about parameter values, geographic variation, and current threats limit the assessment. We discuss the merits and limitations of our population projection modeling (PPM) approach where other analytical methods are precluded by lack of available data.

Publication Year 2022
Title Range-wide population projections for Northern Red-Bellied Cooters (Pseudemys rubriventris)
DOI 10.1670/21-065
Authors Jillian Elizabeth Fleming, Jennifer F. Moore, Hardin Waddle, Julien Martin, Evan H. Campbell Grant
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Herpetology
Index ID 70237276
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center