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One species? How many subspecies? Lets look and see!
The variability of Cuora amboinensis
The genus Cuora - 13 recognized species until November 2023, when 4 new species were added by Blanck et al. (2023) - the most critically endangered (turtle) genus on this planet. Some are legendary, others are still traded as food or disposable pets and do not receive the attention they deserve. One of them fitting the latter description, rather the one fitting it, is Cuora amboinensis (sensu lato), the type species of the genus Cuora, described in 1802. What was until recently regarded as one species with 4 subspecies actually represents a species complex with previously undescribed taxa - additional subspecies and/or species, in other words. This species complex has the largest distribution area within its genus, ranging from the slopes of the Himalayas in Bhutan through India, Myanmar and Vietnam to the east, and down through Malaysia and most of the Indonesian islands as well as the Philippines to the south. Decades of intensive collection for the global pet trade and especially for the food trade in East Asia has impacted many populations, but most of the members of this C. amboinensis complex are still one of very few species in the genus that are still common in some areas. The current IUCN threat risk ranking needs to be reviewed due to the recent taxonomic changes. Captive (pure) breeding is occurring, but not as frequently as one would expect for a species that used to be abundant in the pet trade.
Our team resolved this issue, with our most recent publication: Blanck, T., Gaillard, D., Protiva, T., Wheatley, M., Shi, H., Liu, L., Ray, P. C., and Anders, B. (2003): A Taxonomic Hide and Seek: Phylogenetic and Phylogeographic Relationships in the Southeast Asian Box Turtle, Cuora amboinensis (Riche in Daudin, 1801). Russian Journal of Herpetology 30(6-S):1-52.
Get the publication it here
see our species accounts:
Cuora amboinesis (Riche in Daudin, 1801)
Cuora couro (Leschenault in Schweigger, 1812)
Cuora lineata (Mccord & Philippen, 1998)
Cuora philippinensis (Blanck et al. 2023)
Cuora praschagi (Blanck et al. 2023)
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