Stomach Contents of Commercially Harvested Adult
Alligator Snapping Turtles, Macroclemys temminckii
KEVIN N. SLOAN1, KURT A. BUHLMANN2, AND JEFFREY E. LOVICH3
1U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Habitat Conservation Plan Program, 3773 Martin Way E.,
C- 101, Olympia, Washington 98501 USA [Fax: 360-534-9331; E-mail:
2Univervity of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, South
Carolina 29802 USA [E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org];
3National Biological Service, Palm Springs Field Station, Midcontinent Ecological
Science Center, 63500 Garnet Avenue, P.O. Box 2000, North Palm Springs, California
92258-2000 USA [E-mail:email@example.com]
Studies of diet can provide insight into the behavior and habitat selection of a
species. Individual growth rates, health, movement patterns, habitat preferences,
and longevity are some factors that are strongly influenced by diet. For rare or
declining species, diet data may be important for developing effective management
strategies and identifying changes in natural systems.
The alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temminckii, is the largest freshwater
turtle in North America (Ernst et al., 1994) and is confined to drainage systems
along the Gulf Coast of the United States (Pritchard, 1989). It ranges west to the
San Antonio River in Texas, east to the Suwannee River in Florida, and north in
the Mississippi River system to central Illinois (Lovich, 1993). Macroclemys has
historically been an important part of the culture and cuisine of the southeastern
United States and is a common inhabitant of its wetlands. Exploitation of the meat
of Macroclemys has caused a steep population decline in recent times (Pritchard,
1989; Ernst et al., 1994; Sloan and Lovich, 1995) and the species is currently a
candidate for protection under the US Federal Endangered Species Act.
Habitats occupied by Macroclemys are usually highly productive, rich in organic
matter, and possess a great diversity of potential food items. Habitats occupied by
adults include freshwater lakes, rivers, canals, bayous, swamps with permanent
water, and brackish coastal areas (Jackson and Ross, 1971; George, 1987; Sloan
and Taylor, 1987; Dundee and Rossman, 1989).
SREL Reprint #2071
Sloan, K.N., K.A. Buhlmann, and J.E. Lovich. 1996. Stomach contents of
commercially harvested adult alligator snapping turtles, Macroclemys temminckii.
Chelonian Conservation and Biology 2:96-99.
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