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New Chinese turtles: endangered or invalid? A reassessment of two species using mitochondrial DNA, allozyme electrophoresis and known-locality specimens

  • James Ford Parham (a1) (a2), W. Brian Simison (a2), Kenneth H. Kozak (a3), Chris R. Feldman (a4) (a5) and Haitao Shi (a6)...

Over the past 16 years, 13 new species of geoemydid turtles have been described from China. Ten of these new species are based on specimens purchased through the Hong Kong animal trade. Unfortunately, attempts by scientists to discover wild populations of some these newly described species have failed, raising questions about the legitimacy of the type localities and concerns over the validity of the species. Here the phylogenetic and taxonomic validity of two of these species is tested. Mitochondrial DNA haplotypes and allozyme genotypes of specimens matching the descriptions of Mauremys iversoni and Cuora serrata are compared to specimens of established species collected from known localities. The available evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the specimens represent polyphyletic, intergeneric hybrids. The systematic status of all the new forms of turtles described from pet trade specimens are critical data for conservation efforts, particularly captive breeding.

Corresponding author
All correspondence to: James Parham. Tel: 510-643-2109; Fax: 642-1822; E-mail:
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Animal Conservation forum
  • ISSN: 1367-9430
  • EISSN: 1469-1795
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-conservation-forum
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