NORTHERN MAP TURTLE
Graptemys geographica
(LeSueur 1817)


grăp-tĕm-ēz — gē-ō-gră-fĭ-kă


Kansas Threatened Species


A adult female (left) and an adult male (right) Northern Map Turtle basking on a log in Shoal Creek, Cherokee County. © Jenn Rader.
A juvenile Northern Map Turtle. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

Description:
Northern Map turtles derive their name from the lines on their carapace, which resemble roadways or waterways on a map. The margins of the carapace are serrated. The head, limbs, and tail are brownish and covered with yellow stripes. Can be differentiated from other map turtles in Kansas by the yellow spot behind each eye. Females have broader heads and are twice the size of males.
Adults normally 90-253 mm (3½-10 inches) in carapace length; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU Color Slide 8872) from Osage County with carapace length of 226 mm (8 7/8 inches) collected by Lenn Shipman and Warren Voorhees on 3 July 1990; maximum carapace length throughout range: 10 5/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Distribution:
The Northern Map turtle is known from the Marais des Cygnes, Verdigris, and Caney drainage systems in eastern Kansas. This species inhabits slow-moving stretches and backwaters of rivers, streams, and lakes.
Additional records (both from 1911) exist for Montgomery (KU 3267) and  Wilson (KU 3285) but are too imprecise to plot. These records are mapped in Collins (1993).


(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 23 Total Records 
  • 14 Museum Vouchers 
  • 9 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (2); Anderson (4); Bourbon (1); Chautauqua (1); Cherokee (3); Franklin (2); Johnson (2); Montgomery (1); Osage (2); Unknown (2); Wilson (2);

Natural History:
Northern Map Turtles prefer slow-moving waters where they spend most of their day basking on logs or other partially submerged structures. They are attentive and will dive into the water, and swim away, at first sign of a threat. The Northern Map Turtle is shy and retiring, usually avoiding the main stem of Kansas' larger rivers, in favor of smaller tributaries with denser canopies. 
They eat crayfish, snails, mussels, and insects, which they crush with the broad surface of jaws. The diet may vary between males and females, as the larger size and enlarged head of females allow them to eat larger snails, mussels, and freshwater clams.
Females nest in sand or soft soil above the water. Each female may lay 2-3 clutches of 10-16 leathery-shelled eggs each, from late May through early July. The eggs hatch in late summer.


Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
Remarks:
First reported from Kansas by Cragin (1880) from specimens observed around Ottawa. The oldest extant specimens known from Kansas are KU 3265, 3267 (Franklin County) and KU 3285 (Wilson County), all collected in 1911.
Formerly considered extirpated in Kansas (Capron, 1985), until Edds (1990, 1991) discovered six new localities in the Marais des Cygnes drainage. The Northern Map Turtle is shy and retiring, usually avoiding the main stem of Kansas' larger rivers, in favor of smaller tributaries with denser canopies.
Recent observations from Chautauqua and Wilson counties help corroborate specimens from the Verdigris River drainage mapped by Collins (1993). Voucher specimens are desirable from this area, should they ever become available.
There is little evidence to suggest that populations have changed much over the past 50 years. However, because it is known from so few localities, those sites should be monitored regularly and new sites should be surveyed.
Two recent observations in Johnson County along Wolf Creek and the Blue River (~2 miles apart) warrant further investigation.
Listed as a Kansas Threatened species in 1993. No recovery plans exists for this species.
As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife
Currently, the following areas are designated critical for Northern Map Turtles:
(1) The main stem of the Marmaton River from Moran, Allen County (Sec. 36-T24S-R20E) to the Kansas/Missouri border in Bourbon County (Sec. 24-T25S-R25E). 
(2) The main stem of Cedar Creek in Anderson County from its point of entry into Sec. 1-T22S-R18E to its confluence with Pottawatomie Creek (Sec. 1-T20S-R19E). 
(3) The main stem of the South Fork of Pottawatomie Creek in Anderson County from its point of entry into Sec. 27-T21S-R20E to the confluence with Pottawatomie Creek (Sec. 24- T19S-R20E). 
(4) The main stem of the West Fork of Tauy Creek in Franklin County from the Douglas/Franklin County border (Sec. 23-T15S-R19E) to the confluence with Ottawa Creek (Sec. 28-T16S-R20E). 
(5) The main stem of Ottawa Creek in Franklin County from the confluence of the West Fork of Tauy Creek (Sec. 23-T15S-R19E) to the confluence with the Marais des Cygnes River (Sec. 11-T17S-R20E). 
(6) The main stem of Long Creek in Osage County from the Osage/Coffey County border (Sec. 36-T18S-R15E) to the confluence of the Marais des Cygnes River (Sec. 2-T18S-R16E). 
(7) The main stem of Frog Creek in Osage County from the Osage/Coffey County border (Sec. 34-T18S-R15E) to the confluence with Long Creek (Sec. 30-T18S-R16E). 
(8) The main stem of the Little Osage River in Bourbon County from the Bourbon/Allen County border (Sec. 36-T23S-R21E) to the Kansas/Missouri border (Sec. 1-T24S-R25E). 
(9) The main stem of Appanoose Creek in Franklin County from the Osage/Franklin border (Sec. 23-T15S-R17E) to the confluence with the Marais des Cygnes River (Sec. 32-T16S-R19E).


Bibliography:
1880 Cragin, Francis W. A preliminary catalogue of Kansas reptiles and batrachians Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 7():114-123
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1947 Hall, Henry H. and Hobart M. Smith Selected records of reptiles and amphibians from southeastern Kansas Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 49(4):447-454
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Clarke, Robert F. Identification of Kansas turtles. Kansas School Naturalist 2(4):1-3
1956 Clarke, Robert F. Turtles in Kansas. Kansas School Naturalist 2(4):1-15
1990 Edds, David, Warren Voorhees, Judy Schnell and Lenn Shipman. Common Map Turtle rediscovered in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (82):12
1990 McCoy, Clarence J., Jr. and Richard C. Vogt. Graptemys geographica. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (484):1-7
1991 Edds, David R. Conservation status of the Common Map Turtle in Kansas. Agency Contract # 259.  ():45
1993 Freeman, Craig C. and William H. Busby. A survey for endangered and threatened species on the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, Johnson County, Kansas. Report No. 54. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 115pp.
1994 McCoy, Clarence J., Jr. and Richard C. Vogt. Graptemys. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (584):1-3
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2014 Lindeman, Peter V. Surveys of basking turtles in the rivers of northeastern Oklahoma, with emphasis on Graptemys geographica (Common Map Turtle). Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 94():1-9
2016 Lindeman, Peter V. The Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas: Ecology, Evolution, Distribution, and Conservation. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 488pp.
2017 Praschag Peter, Flora Ihlow, Morris Flecks, Melita Vamberger, and Uwe Fritz. Diversity of North American map and sawback turtles (Testudines: Emydidae: Graptemys). Zoologica Scripta 46():675-682
Account Last Updated:
2/18/2020 9:10:25 AM


Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University