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It may not be surprising that an "aquatic desert" turtle faces long odds in life, but environmentalists and biologists still welcomed this week's endangered species designation for the Sonoyta mud turtle.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the designation Wednesday, citing threats from climate change to loss of habitat for the southern Arizona animal, whose numbers are believed to have dwindled to as low as 100 turtles.
Sonoyta - Mud - Turtle - Danger - Extinction
"The Sonoyta mud turtle is clearly in danger of extinction," Steve Spangle, a field supervisor with Fish and Wildlife's Arizona Ecological Services, said in a release announcing the listing.
"Protecting it under the Endangered Species Act will marshal increased attention and the resources needed by our U.S. and Mexican conservation partners to improve and expand its dwindling habitat and populations," Spangle said.
Turtle - Subspecies - Sonoran - Mud - Turtle
The turtle, a subspecies of the Sonoran mud turtle, is found in northern Mexico and in the Quitobaquito Springs in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, its only natural habitat in the U.S. Those springs are also the only habitat for the Quitobaquito snail and the desert caper plant, according to the National Park Service.
The Sonoyta mud turtle is a dark, pocket-sized freshwater turtle that lives in permanent aquatic habitats and eats insects, snails, fish, frogs and some plants. They have a mottled pattern on their head, neck and limbs. They must have land and water in close proximity.
Problem - John - Iverson - Biology - Professor
"That is the problem," said John Iverson, a biology professor at Earlham College in Indiana, who first identified the Sonoyta turtle as a subspecies in the 1980s. "They need...
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