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The Future Of Turtles

In addition to the hazards mentioned above, almost all species of turtles are suffering serious losses of their habitat because of the actions of humans. For example, the sand-hill habitat of the endangered Florida gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is prime land for development into residential areas and shopping malls. Similarly, the semi-desert habitat of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in California and Arizona is being damaged by motorcycles and off-road vehicles. And all over the world, wetlands are being dredged or drained for various reasons, so that valuable habitat for turtles and other wildlife is being destroyed. The automobile is another important killer of turtles. In the United States, many thousands are run over each year while trying to cross highways. There is no question that most species of turtles have been severely depleted in abundance, and are continuing to decline.



Ernst, C. H., and R. W. Barbour. Turtles of the United States. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1972.

Ernst, C. H., and R. W. Barbour. Turtles of the World. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

Minton, S. A., Jr. and M. R. Minton. Giant Reptiles. New York: Scribner's Sons, 1973.

Obst, F. J. Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

Herndon G. Dowling


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—The upper part of a turtle's shell.


—Hidden-necked turtles, found in most temperate and tropical regions; they fold their neck vertically.


—Occurring in the open ocean.


—The bottom part of a turtle's shell.


—Side-necked turtles, found only on the southern continents; they fold their neck laterally.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Toxicology - Toxicology In Practice to TwinsTurtles - History And Fossil Record, Morphology, Ecology, Behavior And Life History, Side-neck Turtles - Classification, Turtles and humans