Graptemys barbouri. Researchers are not sure if the species is native to this area or was perhaps introduced via human activity. Escambia Map Turtles are apparently not found downstream in the Florida portion of the Choctawhatchee River. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013; Powell, et al., 2016; Sasser and Godwin, 2014)(Escambia Map Turtle) occurs only in the Southern United States, in a relatively small range in the Pensacola Bay drainage system located in southern Alabama and western Florida. This includes the Escambia, Yellow, Conecuh, and Shoal Rivers. Recently, was found to inhabit the Pea and Choctawhatchee Rivers in Alabama, which drain into the Choctawhatchee Bay. Here, is sympatric with
Escambia Map Turtles are a moderately sized, sexually dimorphic species. Adult females have an average carapace length of 27.94 cm (11 inches). Males are typically less than half the size of females with an average carapace length of 12.7 cm (5 inches). The carapace is high-domed, and triangular in the cross-section. The carapace is an olive to light-brown color with a vertebral keel. Along the vertebral keel is a broken black stripe. The keel is prominent in males and juveniles, but more rounded in adult females. The keel is most pronounced on vertebrals two and three, with the latter much lower than the first. The marginal scutes have yellow circular borders that curve inward. The pleural scutes have yellow to orange bars with black borders on the distal portion. This forms a reticulating pattern. The pale yellow plastron is hingeless, and relatively flattened in both sexes. An inconspicuous dark pattern follows the seams of the plastron, and is more pronounced on seams running horizontal to the body. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013; Lovich and McCoy, 1992; Powell, et al., 2016; Sasser and Godwin, 2014)
The head and limbs are a brown to olive color with yellow markings. Occasionally, these markings can be a dark yellow-orange color. An interorbital blotch on the top of the head ends anteriorly in a distinct three-pronged shape (nasal trident). Each eye has postorbital markings that end in rounded posterior edges. The interorbital blotch is not connected to the postorbital markings. Two neck stripes form oval tips at the back of the head that may separate into supraoccipital blotches. The underside of the jaw possesses medial longitudinal striping. The limbs and tail are striped. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013; Lovich and McCoy, 1992; Powell, et al., 2016; Sasser and Godwin, 2014)
See notes on mating behavior included in next section.
Females nest from late April to late July, when water levels are the highest. Eggs are usually laid in sandbars along river bends. The female will dig a small hole a few inches deep with her hind feet, and about 10 to 50 feet from the water’s edge to lay a single clutch of elliptical, soft-shelled eggs. Eggs may absorb water and later become nearly spherical. Clutch size is dependent on female carapace length. Larger females will produce larger clutches. Clutch size varies from 6 to 13 eggs; average clutch size is about 7 eggs. The average number of clutches per season laid by a single female is about four. This is also dependent on female size. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Sasser and Godwin, 2014)
There appears to be no data on lifespan of Graptemys pulchra, which is known to have lived for 15 years in captivity. In addition, the closely related Graptemys barbouri has a notable longevity record of over 31 years for a captive specimen that was acquired as an adult. It is likely that could live as long. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Slavens and Slavens, 1999), but this species was once considered conspecific with
Escambia Map Turtles are diurnal, and have been seen basking in every month of the year. They can withstand water temperatures as low as 11°C, but are generally inactive at temperatures below 19°C. They prefer to bask on sunny days when water levels are higher, and air temperatures exceed water temperature, typically in early spring. They can be found basking at any time during the day, and usually spend many hours at a time basking. Offshore basking sites are usually preferred. Deadwood near deep water is used as a basking perch most of the time. Females and juveniles have been known to bask in shaded areas as opposed to direct sunlight. Basking activity decreases in midsummer to early fall. Basking turtles are alert and shy, and drop into the water at any disturbance.
These turtles are presumably highly visual animals, but also appear to perceive sound and/or vibration. Use of chemical cues is possible but unknown. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013; Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013)
As in most turtle species, Chelydra and Macrochelys), and herons. Humans are serious predators of these turtles, sometimes using basking turtles as shooting targets. (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013; Shealy, 1976)suffers significant destruction of their eggs due to nest predators such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, and fish crows. Nest-seeking females are killed by raccoons and bobcats. Hatchlings and small juveniles are vulnerable to large fish, snapping turtles (
Escambia Map Turtles are predators that presumably impact or control populations of aquatic insects and mollusks. They are, in turn, predated by numerous species of birds, mammals, and other reptiles. Aquatic turtles are also host to many parasites, both internal and external (such as leeches, Placobdella sp.). (Ernst and Lovich, 2009; Lindeman, 2013)
As of 2011, Escambia Map Turtles are listed as "near threatened" (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). They are losing their habitats to human expansion and water pollution; survival rates have decreased due to water pollution in certain areas brought on by nearby factories. The water pollution affects them primarily by decreasing their prey base, and thus causing them to die of starvation. Use of basking turtles as targets for firearms is deplorable, and can quickly reduce populations. Some commercial collection for the pet trade may also be affecting their numbers. (Lindeman, 2013; Lovich, et al., 2011)
Marissa Tetzlaff (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
(as keyword in perception channel section) This animal has a special ability to detect heat from other organisms in its environment.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
uses sight to communicate
Enders, S. 2016. "Natural history: Description and identification" (On-line). Accessed November 28, 2016 at https://theturtleroom.com/species-profiles/graptemys-ernsti/.
Enge, K., G. Wallace. 2008. Basking survey of map turtles (Graptemys) in the Choctawhatchee and Ochlockonee Rivers, Florida and Alabama. Florida Scient., 71(4): 310-322.
Ernst, C., J. Lovich. 2009. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Baltimore: JHU Press.
Lindeman, P. 2013. The Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas: Ecology, Evolution, Distribution, and Conservation. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Lovich, J., J. Godwin, C. McCoy. 2011. Graptemys ernsti Lovich and McCoy 1992 – Escambia Map Turtle. Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group A.G.J. Rhodin, P.C.H. Pritchard, P.P. van Dijk, R.A. Saumure, K.A. Buhlmann, J.B. Iverson, and R.A. Mittermeier, Eds. Chelonian Research Monographs, 51: 1-6.
Lovich, J., C. McCoy. 1992. Review of the Graptemys pulchra group (Reptilia: testudines: emydidae), with descriptions of two new species. Annals of Carnegie Museum, 61(4): 300-302.
Powell, R., R. Conant, J. Collins. 2016. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, 4th Ed.. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Sasser, M., J. Godwin. 2014. "Escambia Map Turtle" (On-line). Accessed October 21, 2016 at http://www.outdooralabama.com/escambia-map-turtle..
Shealy, R. 1976. The natural history of the Alabama map turtle, Graptemys pulchra baur, in Alabama. Bull. Florida St. Mus, 21: 47-111.
Slavens, F., K. Slavens. 1999. Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity: Breeding— Longevity and Inventory Current January 1, 1998. Seattle, Washington: Slaveware.