We analyzed the taxon richness and endemism of tortoises and freshwater turtles in the world’s premier biodiversity conservation priority areas and countries with greatest turtle richness. Turtle hotspots include biodiversity hotspots (BHS), high-biodiversity wilderness areas (HBWA), and additional turtle priority areas (TPA) previously identified. We present taxon richness and endemism values for the 16 turtle hotspots with highest richness and endemicity. These 16 turtle hotspots together contain 262 species (83% of total), of which 149 (47%) are endemic to these areas combined, and 134 species (43%) are endemic to just a single priority area. At the terminal taxon (subspecies) level, these 16 areas harbor 342 taxa (79%), of which 210 (48%) are endemic to these combined areas, and 195 (45%) are endemic to a single priority area. These 16 BHS, HBWA, and TPA account for less than 24 million square kilometers, or 16.0% of planet Earth’s land surface, with an estimated 10.4 million square kilometers of original habitat remaining, or 7.0% of the planet’s land surface. Twenty-one countries are recorded to harbor 15 or more species of non-marine turtles, with the percentage of endemic species ranging from 0% to 88%. Collectively, these 21 countries are inhabited by 275 (87%) species and 352 (81%) taxa, of which 115 (37%) species and 175 (40%) taxa are endemic to just a single country. Identification of these conservation priority areas and countries should assist conservation of turtles worldwide by focusing on areas where the greatest number of species and taxa can be secured and where the authorities and institutions that exist hope to accomplish these goals.
Chelonian Conservation and Biology
Vol. 14 • No. 1
Vol. 14 • No. 1