Norris, D., Michalski, F., & Gibbs, J. P. (2020). Community based actions save Yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) eggs and hatchlings flooded by rapid river level rises. PeerJ, 8, e9921.
The conservation and recovery of increasingly threatened tropical freshwater turtle populations depends on effective management plans and actions. Here we show that community-based actions saved Yellow-spotted river turtle ( Podocnemis unifilis ) eggs submerged by unseasonal flooding and ensured the release of hatchlings. We recovered 926 eggs and 65 premature hatchlings from 74 submerged nests at 16 flooded nesting areas along 75 km of waterways. The rescued eggs were transferred to a rearing center and incubated. Hatchlings emerged from eggs that had remained underwater for up to two days. Hatchlings were maintained in 250–500 L nursery tanks until yolk sac scars had closed. Healthy hatchlings were then immediately released around the original nesting areas. We released 599 hatchlings (60.4%) from 991 submerged eggs and hatchlings. Egg survival (61.7% (571/926)) was substantially less than hatchling survival (94.2% (599/636)) but within the expected range of values reported for this species. These findings suggest that Yellow-spotted river turtle eggs and embryos are resistant to short-term submersion, which could help explain the widespread distribution of this species across highly seasonal Amazonian rivers. Management plans should take the possible survival of submerged eggs into consideration as part of species conservation and recovery actions.