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Acanthochelys pallidipectoris, 065

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Acanthochelys pallidipectoris (Freiberg 1945) –
Chaco Side-Necked Turtle

Thomas Vinke1, Sabine Vinke1, Enrique Richard2, Mario R. Cabrera3,
Lorena Paszko
4, Pablo Marano5, and Sébastien Métrailler6

1Filadelfia 853, 9300 Fernheim, Paraguay [[email protected]];
2Cnl Valdéz 1327, Villa Pabón, La Paz, Bolivia [[email protected]];
3Depto. Diversidad Biologica y Ecologia, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba,
Velez Sarsfield 299,(5000) Cordoba, Argentina [[email protected]];

4Delegación Regional NEA, Administración de Parques Nacionales,
Belgrano 997, Mburucuyá, Corrientes, Argentina [[email protected]];

5Mansilla 2724 piso 8, 1425 Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina [[email protected]];
6Chemin du Bosquet 6, 1967 Bramois, Switzerland [[email protected]]


Summary. – The Chaco Side-necked Turtle, Acanthochelys pallidipectoris (Family Chelidae), is a small to medium-sized freshwater turtle (carapace length to ca. 180 mm), endemic to the Chaco ecoregion of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Its distribution is restricted to the temporarily flooded marshes and lowlands of dry shrub forest with impenetrable soils. The only record outside of the dry Chaco, in Mendoza, Argentina, is likely of anthropogenic origin. The activity period is very short (4–6 months a year), and populations consist of few animals. The species is threatened by habitat loss combined with climatic change leading to increased aridity and diminished ephemeral water resources. The species is currently categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List based on a 1996 evaluation, but has recently been provisionally re-assessed as Endangered.

Distribution. – Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay. Endemic to the Chaco ecoregion of southern Bolivia, western Paraguay, and northern Argentina.

Synonymy. – Platemys pallidipectoris Freiberg 1945, Acanthochelys pallidipectoris.

Subspecies. – None currently recognized.

Status. – IUCN 2011 Red List: Vulnerable (VU A1c, D1) (assessed 1996, needs updating); TFTSG Draft 2011: Endangered; CITES: Not Listed.


Vinke, T., Vinke, S., Richard, E., Cabrera, M.R., Paszko, L., Marano, P., and Métrailler, S. 2011. Acanthochelys pallidipectoris (Freiberg 1945) – Chaco Side-Necked Turtle. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 065.1–065.7, doi:10.3854/crm.5.065.pallidipectoris.v1.2011, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Adult female Acanthochelys pallidipectoris from Boquerón, Paraguay.
Photo by Thomas and Sabine Vinke.



Distribution of Acanthochelys pallidipectoris in southern Bolivia, western Paraguay, and northern Argentina in central South America. Red dots = museum and literature occurrence records of native populations based on Iverson (1992), plus more recent and authors’ data; purple dot = introduced population; green shading = projected native distribution based on GIS-defined hydrologic unit compartments (HUCs) constructed around verified localities and then adding HUCs that connect known point localities in the same watershed or physiographic region, and similar habitats and elevations as verified HUCs (Buhlmann et al. 2009), and adjusted based on authors’ data.