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Graptemys oculifera, 033

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Graptemys oculifera (Baur 1890) –
Ringed Map Turtle, Ringed Sawback

Robert L. Jones1 and Will Selman2

1Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Museum of Natural Science,
2148 Riverside Drive, Jackson, Mississippi 39202 USA [[email protected]];
2Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Southern Mississippi,
118 College Drive #5018, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406 USA [[email protected]]


Summary. — The ringed map turtle, Graptemys oculifera (Family Emydidae), is a medium-sized aquatic turtle that inhabits the Pearl River watershed of Mississippi and Louisiana. This species prefers larger rivers with current and abundant basking structure in the form of deadwood. Males (carapace length to 109 mm) are much smaller than females (to 215 mm) and mature between 2 and 4 yrs of age, with females maturing between 10 and 16 yrs. Nesting occurs primarily on sandbars from May to July, average clutch size is 3.66 eggs, clutch size ranges from 1 to 10, and annual clutch frequency is 1.10. Nest predation is relatively high, with ca. 86% destroyed by vertebrate predators, usually raccoons, fish crows, or armadillos. The diet is composed primarily of aquatic insects. Densities range from 90 to over 340 turtles per river km. Primary threats appear to be habitat loss, modification, and sedimentation. The current IUCN status as Endangered should be retained primarily because of the restricted distribution of this species and the continuing loss of habitat within that restricted range.

Distribution. — USA. Restricted to the Pearl River drainage of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Synonymy. — Malacoclemmys oculifera Baur 1890, Graptemys oculifera, Malaclemys lesueurii oculifera, Graptemys pseudogeographica oculifera, Graptemys oculifera oculifera, Malaclemys oculifera.

Subspecies. — None currently recognized.

Status. — IUCN 2009 Red List: Endangered (EN B1+2c) (assessed 1996, needs updating); CITES: Appendix III (as Graptemys spp., USA); US ESA: Threatened.


Jones, R.L. and Selman, W. 2009. Graptemys oculifera (Baur 1890) – ringed map turtle, ringed sawback. 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. 033.1-033.8, doi:10.3854/crm.5.033.oculifera.v1.2009, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Adult female Graptemys oculifera from the Pearl River, Mississippi.
Photo by Robert L. Jones.


Distribution of Graptemys oculifera in southeastern USA (Mississippi and Louisiana). Red points = museum and literature occurrence records based on Iverson (1992) plus more recent and authors’ data; green shading =  projected 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., in press), and adjusted based on authors’ data.