Norris, D., Peres, C. A., Michalski, F., & Gibbs, J. P. (2019). Prospects for freshwater turtle population recovery are catalyzed by pan-Amazonian community-based management. Biological Conservation, 233, 51–60.
Sustainable use as a mechanism for the conservation and recovery of exploited wildlife populations remains intensely debated, including for freshwater turtles, a diverse and imperiled group of aquatic reptiles that are an important food source for many residents of tropical regions. Here we evaluated the geographical extent of recovery options for a heavily exploited tropical freshwater turtle fauna across 8.86 M km 2 of South American river catchments under scenarios of Business-as-Usual (BAU), Protection (Pr) and Community-Based-Management (CBM). For the widespread indicator species, Podocnemis unifilis, demographic analysis showed that populations subject to moderate levels of female harvest (≤10%) can recover over broad areas if concurrent headstarting of hatchlings is practiced more widely. With regional strengthening of the protected area network unlikely, CBM developed with harvest frameworks derived from demographic rates appropriate to tropical species could catalyze a rapid continental scale recovery of Amazonian freshwater turtles within a few decades.