Evidence of successful hatching by introduced Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) in British Columbia, Canada
Keywords:Red-eared Slider, Invasive Species, Reproduction, Population Status, Northern Climates, British Columbia, Western Painted Turtle
Globally, competition and disease from introduced Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is a threat to co-existing native turtles. Red-eared Slider has been introduced throughout south coastal British Columbia (BC), mainly as pet turtle releases. Urban centres receive the most individuals, particularly in the Lower Mainland area outlying Vancouver, on southern Vancouver Island, and on the Sunshine Coast. The range of Red-eared Sliders in BC overlaps that of the Threatened Pacific Coast population of Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii). Herein we report on a survey for both species, noting presence, assessed population sizes, and nesting activity. Across 19 sites in the south coast occupied by both turtle species, we found the median abundance of Red-eared Sliders to be 2.5 times larger than that of Western Painted Turtles (Mann–Whitney U = 104, n1 = n2 = 19, Z-Score = −2.2188, P = 0.02642, two-tailed). There had been no evidence of Red-eared Sliders successfully hatching in the wild in BC until our study. We observed complete development, with 19 neonates from three different nesting sites between 2015 and 2017. Thus, Red-eared Slider is indeed established and able to breed in BC and thus competition and disease introduction from the species likely contributes to the decline of the Pacific Coast population of Western Painted Turtle, particularly at sites with low painted turtle numbers. The scale and mechanisms of impact requires further investigation.
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