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Marc Girondot, Chloé Archinard, Anne-Caroline Prévot-Julliard, Antoine Cadi and Emeline Gousset

Abstract

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), invasive species are one of the most important causes of biodiversity decline at a global scale. The impact of introduced species on local ecosystems is thus important to evaluate. Pet voluntary introductions are made by private people and usually concern only one or two individuals per occasion. However, the number of release occasions is as numerous as the number of pet owners that don't want to keep their pet anymore and then decide to "release" it. Hatchling red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) have been massively exported from the United States to European (until 1997) and Asian countries to be sold as pets. Many owners, ignoring the potential consequences of their act, have released their grown up turtle in natural freshwater ecosystems. As a consequence, feral adult turtles have been detected all over France. In this paper, we provide information that contradicts public opinion that introduced slider turtle is strictly carnivorous. By analysing the diet of feral adult turtles, we found that adult slider turtles are omnivorous, as in their natural areas.

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Mathieu Détaint, Anthony Olivier, Marc Cheylan, Christophe Coïc, Uwe Fritz, Daniela Guicking, Antoine Cadi, Peter Lenk, Ulrich Joger, Michael Wink and Elisabeth Rosecchi

Abstract

The European pond turtle, Emys orbicularis, is a wide ranging species, distributed from Northwest Africa over a large part of Europe and Asia Minor to the Caspian and Aral Seas. For 106 pond turtles from France mtDNA sequence variation has been assessed, using a 1031 bp portion of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Three of nine haploclades currently known from the entire species' range were found in France. One clade (II) is represented with four very similar haplotypes, differing by one mutation, and the two other clades (V, VI) are represented with one haplotype each. A syntopic occurrence of clades II and V is reported for the first time for the Camargue. Besides, clade II occurs in the French regions Aquitaine, Centre-Val de Loire, and Rhône-Alpes. Outside of France, it is found mainly in the catchment areas of the Danube and Oder rivers and in the Balkans. Haploclade V, which is also known from the Apennine peninsula, Sardinia, and the northern Mediterranean coast of Spain, is restricted in France to Corsica and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. A single individual bearing a haplotype of an Iberian and North African clade (VI) was found in Aquitaine near Pau. This could indicate gene flow between the Iberian peninsula and West France, if the specimen is native. The distribution of the distinct haploclades in France probably reflects Holocene range expansions, especially of haploclade II turtles. In the postglacial, haploclade II terrapins arrived from the east and spread over the Rhône corridor to the Mediterranean coast. In the southern Rhône area they met and hybridized with haploclade V turtles. Further research is needed to clarify whether this hybridization is a locally restricted phenomenon.