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Impacts of Dams on Freshwater Turtles: A Global Review to Identify Conservation Solutions

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Bárcenas-García, A  ORCID logo
Morgan, WH 
Smith, RK 
Sutherland, WJ 


jats:secjats:titleBackground and Research Aims</jats:title>jats:p Dams impact freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. Freshwater turtles are at direct and indirect risk due to changes caused by damming including the loss of terrestrial and aquatic nesting habitats, changes to food availability, and blocking movement. Effective management of these impacts requires robust evidence in order to gain an understanding of conservation solutions that work. </jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleMethods</jats:title>jats:p We reviewed the global scientific literature that evaluated the impact of dams on freshwater turtles, and carried out additional searches of literature published in seventeen languages for studies evaluating actions to mitigate dam impacts. </jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleResults</jats:title>jats:p The search produced 47 published articles documenting dam impacts on 30 freshwater turtle species from seven families (Chelidae, Chelydridae, Emydidae, Geoemydidae, Kinosternidae, Podocnemididae, and Trionychidae) in 13 countries. Few studies were found from Europe and Asia and none from Africa. Most studies were from temperate latitudes, where studies focused more on adults and less threatened species compared with tropical latitudes. More than half of the studies (57%, n = 27) suggested actions to help mitigate dam impacts. Yet, only five studies (three temperate and two tropical) documented the effect of interventions (dam removal, flow management, artificial pond maintenance and community-based action). </jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleConclusion</jats:title>jats:p These findings demonstrate a serious lack of documented evidence evaluating mitigation actions for dam impacts on freshwater turtles. </jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleImplications for Conservation</jats:title>jats:p This lack of evidence reinforces the importance of strengthening and maintaining robust long-term studies needed to develop effective and adaptive conservation actions for this group of threatened vertebrates particularly in tropical regions. </jats:p></jats:sec>


Funder: Arcadia Fund; FundRef:

Funder: Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior; FundRef:

Funder: The David and Claudia Harding Foundation

Funder: MAVA Foundation; FundRef:


conservation evidence, dams, hydropower development, mitigation actions, turtles, testudines, reptile, vertebrate, habitat transformation, aquatic conservation, conservation solutions

Journal Title

Tropical Conservation Science

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SAGE Publications