Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Effects of commercial harvest on freshwater turtle populations

A Common Snapping Turtle being measured, marked, and then released.


May 2019 - December 2021


Commercial harvest of aquatic turtles in Arkansas has historically been unregulated and from 2004 to 2017, approximately 1.3 million wild aquatic turtles were commercially harvested, of which, 95% were taken in the Mississippi Delta ecoregion. Turtles are sold to meet global demand for use as food, pets, and curatives in folk medicine. At present, 10 species of aquatic turtles can be legally harvested with no daily or annual bag limits, no size class restrictions, and no specified harvest season(s). The Arkansas Unit is leading research to investigate the effects of commercial harvest on turtle populations and demography across the Delta ecoregion. Using a combination of population modeling and field research, the Arkansas Unit is attempting to quantify the impact of harvest, assess the current population levels of turtles in the Delta, and explore potential management options to ensure the long-term sustainability of freshwater turtles in Arkansas.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 141

Post Docs: 56

University Staff: 237

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 670

Scientific Publications: 1888

Presentations: 4154



Funding Agencies

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey