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The conservation status of the freshwater and terrestrial turtles of Mexico: The continental turtle fauna of Mexico is composed of 7 families, 13 genera, and 45 species; when subspecies are included, a total of 61 distinct taxa are recognized.

We searched for the imperiled level or protection status of each taxon according to the IUCN Red List, CITES appendices, the 25 most endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises, and the protection lists issued by the Mexican Government. We explored the overlap of conservation status conservacipn Mexican and international agencies by comparing listing status.

The Central American river turtle Dermatemys mawiithe desert tortoises Gopherus spp. Our comparison of the lists indicates that at least 25 taxa of Mexican turtles are lacking basic information and require further study to inform their comprehensive conservation status. Further, we detected a noteworthy discrepancy between international and Mexican conservation priorities for turtle conservation.

Contando a las subespecies es posible distinguir un total de 61 taxa. La tortuga blanca Dermatemys mawiilas tortugas terrestres Gopherus spp. Around the world, the most important threats for turtle populations are habitat loss, habitat degradation, poaching, introduced species, and subsidized predators Klemens, For the Southeastern Asia hotspot, for instance, poaching and commercial trade have been the main factors reducing turtle populations.

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In other regions of the world such as conservaccion Americas, habitat loss plus habitat degradation are the main factors in turtle population reduction. One consequence boologia these issues is threatened species and their associated conservation problems are attached to the jurisdictional and legal administration within countries, states, municipalities, counties, districts, etc.

In other words, conservation of species has become a government problem rather than merely a biological issue. Also it has the second-richest turtle fauna in the world after the U. Biodiversity conservation in Mexico is primarily the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. Mexican government agencies such as Semarnat Ministry for Environment and Natural ResourcesConabio National Commission for biolobia Study of Biodiversity – a scientific authorityProfepa Federal Attorney for Environmental ProtectionInecc National Institute of Ecology and Climatic Change – a scientific authority and policy makerCNF National Commission of Forestryand DGVS General Directorate of Wildlife – part of Semarnat, and in charge of regulating wildlife management and game are in charge of listing threatened species, protecting the listed species, designing and developing conservation programs for native species, and removing introduced species Semarnat, Many of these agencies work under the Semarnat agenda the higher-level agency and part of the executive government ; however, internal agendas, lack of communication between agencies, and the frequent political and electoral uses of governmental programs within the Federal Government in Conservcaion limits conservation efforts and the allocation of financial resources for conservation Mathews, ; Possingham et al.

A call for papers is issued periodically for scholars, non-profit organizations, and research institutions to submit proposals for species to be included in the list. This list was first issued in under Ernesto Zedillo’s government; since then, at least three updates orimack been published Sedesol, coneervacion Semarnat, The Conabio List of Priority Species Biilogia, is another list issued by the Mexican government and is based upon a closed workshop of specialists from the federal government, academia, national non-governmental organizations NGOsinternational NGOs such as the IUCN, and private consultants non-academics, but experts on conservation biology.

Among all of these lists, potential good conservation coverage should be predicted for Mexican turtles; however, there are some inquiries that should be made in order to know more about Mexican non-marine turtles’ conservation status. In this paper we address these specific questions: If not, 2 what are the main discrepancies between the lists, and why? The answers lw these questions should provide a clearer sense of whether including species on imperiled species lists i. We included each threat category in our database and also recorded whether or not each species was endemic to Mexico.

To gather and analyze geographic information in order to determine the geographic distribution of each taxon, we used the official records available from the government for all the turtles collected within Mexico.

This information was used to estimate the distribution area.

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We follow Riddle, Ladle, Laurie, and WhittakerTerborgh and Winterand the IUCN b for the species area of occupancy delimitations and we distinguish the following categories: Below the 50, km 2 threshold, species were considered to be “micro-endemic”, with subdivisions of between 50, and 20, conservzcion 2 being a “confined distribution”, and between 20, and 5, km 2 considered as “marginally distributed”. The distribution records are official data quality control checked by Conabio’s professional staff and came from museum records, research projects, and selected collections with Mexican specimens around the world.


These records represent the public and official information used by Mexican federal authorities to design biological conservation policies and do not include other records like personal collections or databases.

We decided to use only those records in order to follow what Mexican authorities should do for the protection of imperiled species in accord with the law currently.

We used ArcGIS To sample and calculate the approximate species area of occupancy we used a grid of 1, hexagons with an area of km 2 each. This area is quite similar to quadrants of 0. This scale approach has been suggested as a general protocol when studying species distribution Riddle et al. Ochoa-Ochoa and Flores-Villela used a 0. Recently, Ochoa-Ochoa, Campbell, and Flores-Villela tested for different scales in diversity and endemism for the herpetofauna of Mexico, and suggested that fine scales allow recognition of more precise biogeographic patterns.

To determine the area of occupancy categories, we sampled all of SNIB’s records in the following way: A single point inside a hexagon was consider a taxon distributed throughout the entire hexagon, then the sum of all the hexagons with records was used as a proxy for the species’ distribution.

We are aware that this biolpgia could obscure disjunct distributions Terborgh and Winter, and overestimate real distribution areas i. We also sum how many records fall in nature reserves federal, state, and municipal around the country. We reviewed each category and cluster them according to the definitions of threats for each category IUCN, b ; Semarnat, Table 1 summarizes the equivalence of threats between the two lists.

We set that percentage based on the finding of Harris et al. We also generate a categorization of threats based primavk the presence of species in all the survey lists, ‘5 lists’, ‘4 lists’, ‘3 lists’, and ‘2 lists’ in conjunction with prmiack distribution range within the country. The mean score for Wilson’s EVS was Hexagons represent our sample unit. Each hexagon contains km2. The areas shaded in gray represent the nature reserves of Mexico.

The 37 taxa included in the Red List were distributed as follows: Even when the correspondence analyses were conducted besides the non-significant result of the contingency tablewe only found a partial congruency between those species listed in Under Special Protection Pr category by the NOM and the Least Concern LC category of the Red List.

The Central American river turtle D. Mexican desert tortoises, including Gopherus conservscion now restricted to the United States, but with an isolated population in Baja California Sur Murphy et al. The three recognized Mexican tortoises are also considered a priority for conservation by the Mexican government, but only G.

There are no data available about G. Data about protection of endemic taxa with microendemic distributions see Table 3like Trachemys nebulosa sspp. Other endemic species like Creaser’s mud turtle K. Gopherus morafkai and K. A series of other species were contained only in one of the lists i.

There is a group of species missing in the NOM for several reasons i. We tracked the NOM over the three past versions to the species level only because of the lack of subspecies availability data in the previous issues Sedesol, ; Semarnat,and the number of species included changed slightly from 23 into 28 inand to 29 in Most of the increase corresponds with the inclusion of the genus Terrapene and to other taxonomic updates to the list.

The NOM also changed from to in the number of species under specific threat priamck Table 4. In13 species were under Pr, primac were threatened A3 under extinction risk Conservacipnand 3 under rare R, but this category is no longer in use in the NOM ; in21 species were under Pr, 4 under A, and 3 under P; finally in16 species were under Pr, 7 under A, and 6 under P. The lack of concordance between conservacionn lists issued by the Mexican Government and those issued by international NGO’s and specialist groups such as the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group is based on the disarticulation of the Mexican public administration, from the data available to the decision-making process.

As a general trend, the NOM generally lacks the taxa included in the Red Bologia, meanwhile the Red List is also lacking taxa that should be included according to their status in the NOM and their distribution ranges Table 3. This situation merits the following questions: What is the logic of international cooperation agreements on conservation biology if the information exchange is not consistent or even ignored?

What are the missing links between the use of databases such Conabio’s SNIB and the decision-making process? Most of the under recognition between lists is related to misunderstandings probably ignorance or lack of information and a very slow information update process between official lists issued by Mexican Government agencies and the international lists generally issued by specialist groups.


There is also an imperfect understanding of international differences in the protocols for listing species. Vague definitions of some risk categories such as ‘threatened’ A ,’endangered’ P’under special protection’ Prand the difference in the primary function of the assessment lists and their association with local laws Harris et al. Another problem, such as the lack of professionalization of government agencies like those of emerging economies such as Mexico, could break the flow of information about new species and taxonomic changes of the involved taxa.

Most of the time, conservation, taxonomic, and distributional data updates reach the people in charge of updating the lists and the decision makers with considerable delay.

Based on our list comparisons biologa is hard to affirm which have it right and which have it wrong, being the international agencies or the Mexican government.

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It is also hard to tell if the difficult work has been done prmack the international agencies or by Mexican agencies? Certainly both succeed and fail, but the confusion generated by the lack of niologia makes conservation efforts difficult. We believe that at least the following species should be evaluated for their inclusion conservaicon the NOM due to the precedent of the species already included: Finally, the recent upgrade to species level of Gopherus morafkai Murphy et al.

The answer to that question certainly needs careful thought. The Red List recognizes subspecific taxonomic levels, but for Mexican turtles they are included only for few taxa. More research and data are needed on Kinosternon oaxacaeK. All of these taxa are endemic with marginal to very restricted distribution areas. They have a minimum level of protection; however, more data are needed in order to understand the conservation and demographic status of their populations. Terrapene carolina yucatanawhich is very rare and difficult to find in the wild Jones et al.

This species has much the same conservation problems as the Mexican tortoises; however, it has been omitted in Conabio’s list of priority species. The results generated in this paper expose several concerns about turtle conservation biology in Mexico and probably in other lineages. First, there is a lack of correspondence between Red List and NOM status; both lists should be concordant if the conservation policies followed by the Federal Government are to be in accord with international agreements and the conservation strategies and public policies on threatened species.

Second, the lack of a herpetological specialist group in Mexico that collaborates with the Federal Government or any other government level on conservation issues contrasts with the regular practice of other countries and governments, in which specialist groups, policy makers, stakeholders, land owners, and civil society work collaboratively together to solve conservation issues Primack, Due to prjmack size, high biodiversity, and sociocultural complexity of Mexico, it is reasonable that Conabio, Semarnat, Profepa, INECC, and other government agencies do not have a comprehensive and trained staff to deal with all the conservation problems; however, this is not acceptable in the supposed 11th economy of the world.

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Third, so far there are no quantitative results derived from the public policies on the conservation of non-marine turtles in Mexico. The only data lie in the slight change in the number of species included in the list and the number of species that changed to threatened or in extinction risk from to This indicates that a strategy for conservation of freshwater turtles and tortoises is nonexistent or has never been conceived. Compared with other vertebrates such as crocodiles, sea turtles, raptors, parrots, and mammals, freshwater turtles and tortoises have been ignored by conservation efforts in Mexico Conabio, The conservation of non-marine turtles in Mexico should be carefully revised and revisited.

A main goal should be to improve the congruence between the threatened categories of international and local lists, in order to meet obligations to focus research, funds, budgets, and other political efforts toward generating a benchmark of protection for such a diverse group of reptiles in the country.

Since the Red List is not a regulatory apparatus, local lists such NOM should be strengthened empowered to become a comprehensive, systematic assessment that could interact with its counterparts, such as the Endangered Species Act in the case of the shared fauna between Mexico and the U.