Where Have All the Turtles Gone, and Why Does It Matter?

by Jordan Gray 

Turtle Survival Alliance

For Immediate Release

September 19, 2018


Charleston, South Carolina ‚Äì Daudin's Giant Tortoise. Floreana Giant Tortoise. Viesca Mud Turtle. Pinta Giant Tortoise. Reunion Giant Tortoise. In just the last 200 years, these five species of chelonian have disappeared from the Earth forever‚Äîand an unparalleled number of others are on the brink of following suit. Of the 478 recognized modern-day species and subspecies of turtle and tortoise, approximately 61% are threatened with or have already become extinct, making them the most endangered order of vertebrates. But, what does the loss of these animals which have inhabited the earth for over 200 million years mean for global ecology and the environments in which they reside?

In a new publication in BioScience entitled ‚ÄúWhere Have All the Turtles Gone, and Why Does It Matter?‚Äù turtle biologists Dr. Jeffrey Lovich (U.S. Geological Survey), Dr. Whit Gibbons (University of Georgia), Dr. Joshua Ennen (Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute), and Mickey Agha (University of California-Davis) address these questions by synthesizing existing knowledge of the ecological role of chelonians and demonstrating quantitative and qualitative environmental impacts of large-scale population reduction and species loss.

“We are only beginning to understand the ecological value of turtles to the ecosystems we share with them. Given the rapid decline of many turtle populations, and the extinction of some species, we are racing against time to learn more about their place in the intricate machinery of nature," states co-author Dr. Jeffrey Lovich.

TSA President Rick Hudson adds: “This is an important and highly useful paper in that it summarizes the information we need to answer that oft-asked question ‘what good are turtles and why should we protect them?’ For all of us working to conserve turtles this paper is much needed and long-overdue.”


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TSA (Turtle Survival Alliance)

Turtle Survival Alliance is a non-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status. Since its formation in 2001, TSA has become recognized as a global force for turtle conservation, capable of taking swift and decisive action on behalf of critically endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles. With its commitment to "zero turtle extinctions," TSA transforms passion for turtles into effective conservation action through: (1) restoring populations in the wild where possible; (2) securing endangered species in captivity through assurance colonies; and (3) building the capacity to restore, secure, and conserve species within their range countries. In addition to the Turtle Survival Center in South Carolina, TSA manages collaborative turtle conservation programs in 15 diversity hotspots around the world. For more information, visit: www.turtlesurvival.orghttp://www.facebook.com/TurtleSurvivalwww.instagram.com/turtlesurvival@turtlesurvival on Twitter.

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For more information, please contact Jordan Gray, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, at (912) 659-0978 or by email at jgray@turtlesurvival.org.