Status and menace
Threats and status
Worldwide the European pond terrapin is classified by UCN as “low risk” species, but close to be classified as “menaced” species. In Europe it is considered “vulnerable”, but in some EU countries is classified as “threatened” (es. Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland); or as a “declining” species (es. France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain).
During the XX century, in Italy, the growing urbanization, the drainage of various wetlands and the progressive environment degradation leaded to the extinction of several species: for these reasons this species seems to be distributed in the majority of the Italian regions.
In the Pianura Padana, the chances to spot these reptiles decrease while moving from est to west; meanwhile in the Friuli, Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions is still common. There are no reports on sightseeing in the Trento, Bolzano provinces and in the Valle d’Aosta region.
In Piemonte, the presence of Emys orbicularis seems to be restricted to an flat area along the Po river and to the territory along the Lago Maggiore. In the Lombardia region it has been seen in the along the Ticino river , along the Adda river but it has not been seen in the Po river area.
Conspicuous population live on the Po river delta and in the Venice lagoon; further south of the Po river, near Ravenna and Bologna, there are other populations.
Within the center and south of the country, the Emys orbicularis, is distributed mainly on the river areas and wetlands, either on the coastline or in the inland; the region where these animals are more common are Tuscany and Lazio. Few data are available for Puglia, Basilicata and Sardinia; meanwhile the population in Campania, Abruzzo, Calabria and Sicily are localized and threatened.
In the “Testuggine palustre ingauna Action Plan”, from Salvidio et al. 2005, the European terrapin is considered as threatened of extinction in Liguria. The region population – located in the Piana di Albenga area and in 2004 assigned to a new subspecies Emys orbicularis ingauna Jesu et al., 2004 – its represented by few animals, spread in a small area with different habitat.
The threatened that the ovest-side of the Liguria is facing, are the same as for the other Italian population, and even more dangerous as for the small number of individuals. The biggest threat is represented by the elimination of the habitat as wetlands, riversides, and creeks in PLANIZIALI areas: until the end of the 1980 the elimination of these landscapes was normally destroyed; nowadays is very much unlikely that this would continue to happen as most of the habitat are now part of protected areas.
The exploitation of the surface and the ground water represent another menace for this species. The lack of water will lead to the dry off of the wetlands that are key for the species survival.
A large part of the creeks, once important habitat for the terrapins, have been destroyed during the overbuilding. Other invasive action on the riverbed are the cleaning operations operated by tractors and other machines, responsible for the destruction of the vegetation (turtle shelter) and for the death of numerous animal.
The indiscriminate use of pesticides in the wetlands nearby area, leaded to the bioaccumulation of toxic molecules by the bottom players of the food chain which characterize the biodiversity of these environments: the most vulnerable species are represented by the “large predators” , including terrapins.
The grazing in the wetlands nearby areas, could cause the eradication of the terrapins nesting areas; along with the shoulders clearing , and furthermore accelerate the silting process due to the deforestation and the water’s eutrophication. The recreational fishing could be responsible for a significant animal’s death due to hooks ingestion, and it is also often followed by fishermen dog’s predation on the nests and on land terrapins.
It shouldn’t be underestimate also the risks coming from alien terrapins introduction. These species could compete for the food resources (fishes for American terrapins), or other species that could cause deeper ecosystem changes (Luisiana shrimps, coypus).