Tuesday, February 12, 2013

[Testudology • 2010] Distribution of the Big-Headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum, Gray 1831) in Thailand | การแพร่กระจายของเต่าปูลูในประเทศไทย

The different color morphologies of the carapaces of adult big-headed turtles;
(A1) brown, (B1) reddish-brown, (C1) olive, (D1) yellowish-brown and (E1) the new morph, dark gray; all with a squared-off front and rounded back end. The plastrons are usually (A2, D2) yellow, (B2) brownish, (C2) olive with yellowish and (E2) the new dark gray morph.
These specimens are from (A) the Mae Samard Watershed Management Unit, Mae Hong Son Province in the Salawin river basin, (B) the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, Tak Province in the Mae Klong river Basin, (C) the Tad Mok National Park, Phetchabun Province in the Pasak river basin, (D) the Pha Daeng National Park, Chiang Mai Province in the Kok river basin and (E) the Phu Suan Sai National Park, Loei Province in the Khong river basin.

The distribution of the big-headed turtle Platysternon megacephalum, Gray 1831 in Thailand was studied from Dec. 2006 to Apr. 2009.  Mountain streams of protected and unprotected areas throughout Thailand, except in the southern peninsular region, were ground surveyed.  This study confirms the occurrence of P. megacephalum in 1 new and 9 previously reported river basins in the northeastern part of Thailand.  Among these, 22 new localities at elevations of 430-1350 m were reported.  Most P. megacephalum individuals were found at night in small, often rapidly flowing mountain streams in dry dipterocarp and montane rainforests.  The water temperature of these streams ranged 15.5-20.3°C (X = 19.04 ± 2.10°C, n = 33), pH values ranged 5.32-8.07, and water depths were 14.0-95.0 cm (X = 41.67 ± 25.30 cm, n = 33).  The turtles appeared to be most abundant at elevations of 630-720 m. Platysternon megacephalum populations face serious threats from habitat loss, human consumption, and commercial harvest of turtles.  This species urgently needs an aggressive conservation program to ensure its survival. 

Key words: Platysternon megacephalum, big-headed turtle, distribution, Thailand.

Kruewan Pipatsawasdikul, Harold K. Voris, and Kumthorn Thirakhupt. 2010. Distribution of the Big-Headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum, Gray 1831) in Thailand. Zoological Studies. 49(5): 640-650. http://zoolstud.sinica.edu.tw/Journals/49.5/640.pdf