Where has turtle ecology been, and where is it going?

By:  and 



Over 9000 articles have been published on turtles and tortoises (excluding sea turtles) since 1950 according to the Web of Science, including over 8000 contained in a personal bibliography that we analyze in this paper. Research had a slow start from 1900 to 1950, with mostly anecdotal additions to our knowledge until the contributions of F. Cagle and A. Carr took turtle research to new levels as the cofathers of turtle ecology in the middle of the last century. Books written in 1939, 1952, and 1972 that compiled existing literature on turtles in the United States and Canada set the stage for growing interest in turtles. The first global compilation of turtle species did not become available until 1961. Publication frequency increased in the 1960s and especially the 1970s as interest in turtles grew, and a wave of turtle biologists emerged from doctoral degree programs. We briefly review the contributions of scientists who published extensively on turtle ecology in those and later decades up to the present. We also review advances in our knowledge of various topics, including the global distribution of turtle research efforts; changes in our perceptions of turtle species diversity over time; turtle community ecology; sex ratios, sex-determination, and climate change; overwintering behavior; sexual size dimorphism and sexual dichromatism; analyses of population genetics; turtles and vocalization; and the emergence of turtle conservation biology efforts. We conclude with a discussion of future opportunities and challenges for working with turtles.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Where has turtle ecology been, and where is it going?
Series title Herpetologica
DOI 10.1655/0018-0831-075.1.4
Volume 75
Issue 1
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Herpetologists’ League
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 4
Last page 20