Fossil feuds -- lavarackorum or oneiros?

Posted in Turtle Research on Mar 17, 2023

New paper out in Vertebrate Zoology on the esoteric topic of whether the Australian Gulf Snapping Turtle is a living fossil (Elseya lavarackorum) or a living turtle with a recent fossil history (Elseya oneiros).

Dealing with Taxonomic Vandalism

Posted in Turtle Research on Mar 28, 2022

The ASH List of Australian Species of Amphibian and Reptile was announced today. This is a major milestone that took several years to develop and achieve consensus. As one of the architects of the Positive List of journals (and other relevant works) that underpins the Species List, I outline here why I think it is a Positive List good idea. A Positive List distinguishes between science and non-science and may well put an end to the taxonomic instability that arises from the publication of poorly supported species descriptions promulgated outside the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Time will tell.

Turtles of the World Checklist

Posted in Turtle Research on Nov 17, 2021

Today, a team of international scientists from the USA, France, Australia and Germany published the ninth edition of the *Turtles of the World*. The publication not only contains detailed descriptions of all 357 turtle species, but also information on the endangerment status of all species and a comparison of their present and original ranges. It is an immensely valuable resource for those interested in these fascinating animals.

Turtles in Trouble

Posted in Turtle Research, Education and Outreach on Jun 22, 2020

Fifty-one international experts today published the most comprehensive study of the extinction risks for turtles and tortoises in Current Biology. Turtles are in trouble. More than half of all 360 turtle and tortoise species face imminent extinction if current trends continue. Australian turtles feature prominently in the list of species of greatest concern.

Piku Biodiversity Network launches

Posted in Turtle Research on Jul 24, 2019

An exciting new NGO has emerged from the Piku program that has operated out of the University of Canberra since 2006. The new NGO is called the Piku Biodiversity Network Incorporated or PBN for short. Its purpose is to promote and enable biodiversity conservation in Papua New Guinea through environmental education, community-led conservation and knowledge generation.

mtGenomes resolve longstanding issues in turtle taxonomy

Posted in Turtle Research on Apr 09, 2019

Who would have thought you could pull DNA from historical museum specimens dating back to 1796 and sequence it? In a paper that came out today in Scientific Reports we use whole mitochondrial sequences from living populations and assembly of fragments of DNA from museum type specimens to bring the two together and solve some longstanding taxonomic enigmas.

SNPs Breathe New Life into Species Delimitation of a difficult Taxon

Posted in Turtle Research on Dec 15, 2018

In a recent paper in Molecular Ecology on species delimitation, we invoke the age-old criterion of diagnosability to identify lineages that are candidates as name-bearing taxa. For SNP markers, fixed allelic differences between populations or metapopulations provide diagnosability. We apply these markers to a case study of a freshwater turtle, Emyduro macquorii, whose systematics has so far defied resolution, to bring to light a dynamic system of substantive allopatric lineages diverging on independent evolutionary trajectories, but held back in the process of speciation by low level and episodic exchange of alleles across drainage divides on various timescales.

Australian Turtle on the Brink

Posted in Turtle Research on Nov 30, 2018

The Bellinger River Sawshell, *Myuchelys georgesi*, is facing some serious challenges. In an article that appeared this week in the journal Endangered Species Research, we report the disturbing observation that the endangered endemic *Myuchelys georgesi* is hybridizing in the wild with the locally introduced *Emydura macquarii*, which threatens Its very existence.

Asian-New Guinea Turtle Makeover

Posted in Turtle Research on Mar 13, 2018

Conservationists, wildlife biologists and other experts converted on Singapore Zoo this week for intensive scrutiny of what is known of the freshwater turtles of Asia, New Guinea and environs. They paint a sober picture, with many species moving to vulnerable or from vulnerable to endangered, or from endangered to critically endangered.

Profiling a rapid extinction event

Posted in Turtle Research on Mar 13, 2018

The Bellinger River Turtle, Myuchelys georgesi, is in trouble. A virus recently decimated the population, virtually extirpating the adult population from its restricted native range. Effectively, only juveniles remain. In this article, which appeared today an Biological Conservation, we outline our views on the causes of the decline.

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