Biology and Conservation of the Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises of Peru


  • Bruno O. Ferronato Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra
  • Victor M. Morales Universidad Ricardo Palma, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Museo de Historia Natural



Reptiles, Podocnemididae, Chelidae, Kinosternidae, Testudinidae


Little information has been published on Peruvian chelonians. Here we have compiled the available literature pertaining to Peruvian freshwater turtles and tortoises on four topics: Human consumption and ethnobiology, habitat use, status and abundance, and reproduction. In addition, we provide a map of the regions of Peru showing the number of research records and the number of species that occur in each region. Reproduction was the topic most frequently studied, although investigations were concentrated on only three species (Podocnemis unifilis, P. expansa, P. sextuberculata). The regions where the most studies were implemented are the Departamentos de Loreto and Madre de Dios, with studies tending to be concentrated in the vicinity of  Iquitos, the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, and Manu National Park and its buffer zone. In general, regions in which more research effort was evident reported more turtle species, which suggests that the least-studied states could have more species, as they share the same types of habitats as the more intensely investigated regions. We identified major gaps in information and suggest future research in the following poorly studied Peruvian regions: Departaments of Junín, San Martín, Tumbes, Huanuco, Amazonas, Cusco, Ayacucho, Puno, Huancavelica, and Cajamarca. The status, distribution, and abundance of Peruvian populations of Podocnemis expansa, P. unifilis, Chelonoidis carbonaria, Peltocephalus dumerilianus, and Mesoclemmys heliostemma are in particular need  of study. Conservation priorities are also discussed.


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How to Cite

Ferronato, B. O., & Morales, V. M. (2012). Biology and Conservation of the Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises of Peru. Reptiles & Amphibians, 19(2), 103–116.