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North Dakota's

Federally Listed Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate Species – 1995


False Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica pseudogeographica)

JPG -- species photo gif--species map

Status: Former Candidate (Note: As of February 28, 1996, this species is no longer listed as a Candidate species. However, it remains a species of management concern.)

Historical Status:
Over forty years ago, commercial fishermen reported the false map turtle as very abundant in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Currently the false map turtle population is considerably lower than historic levels. Although population levels are low and wide ranging, there are still locally abundant populations along the Missouri River.

Present Status:
The false map turtle is found primarily in large drainages of the Mississippi River basin, from the St. Croix and Wisconsin rivers in northern and central Wisconsin and the upper Mississippi River in Minnesota. The species range follows the Missouri River into North Dakota and extends east to western Tennessee, western Kentucky, Indiana, and central Ohio. The false map turtle has been observed in North Dakota in the counties of Emmons and Sioux.

Habitat:
The false map turtle inhabits slow to swift current rivers and streams, river sloughs, oxbow lakes, ponds, impoundments, and backwaters. The species are very conspicuous and gregarious baskers. They often bask in areas shunned by other turtle species, attempting seemingly impossible climbs up slippery snags that rise at steep angles from the surface of the water. The false map turtle rests just below the surface on submerged branches from fallen trees and projecting logs.

Life History:
The false map turtle is active from April to October. The false map turtle nests in May to July and lays 1 to 3 clutches of 6 to 22 white, leathery, soft-shelled eggs on sandbars, islands, and beaches relatively close to the water's edge. The young turtles hatch in early fall. The species over-winters in muskrat dens, under rocks or logs, in mud in slough, and lake bottoms. It feeds on aquatic plants, insects, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Aid to identification:
The average length of a false map turtle adult is 11 inches. The species is recognized by variable orange-yellow crescent mark behind the eye and alternating green and yellow lines on its throat extending toward the eye. The species carapace shell has a low keel lacking prominent knobs; the rear margin is saw toothed. The false map turtle is olive with one or more dark blotches encircled with yellow or orange located toward the rear of each plate.

Reasons for decline:
Threats to the false map turtle include destruction of habitat from reservoirs, channelization, and uncharacteristic river flows. Other factors that threaten the false map turtle include collection by pet traders, hybridization, predation, and pollution.

Comments:
The false map turtle was named for its shell markings which resembles a contour map.

References:
Turtles of the United States, by C.H. Ernst and R. W. Barbour, 1972. Published by The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.
The Peterson Field Guide Series: A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians, by R. Conant and J.T. Collins, 1991. Published by AMS Publishing, Lawrence, Kansas.


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