Graptemys ouachitensis/pseudogeographica
Cagle 1953/(Gray 1831)

grăp-tĕm-ēz — wătch-ĭ-tĕn-sĭs/sū-dō-gē-ō-gră-fĭ-kă

An adult False Map Turtle from Lincoln County, Kansas. © Ken Brunson.
An adult False Map Turtle from Riley County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult False Map Turtle from Chase County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Two adult Neosho County Ouachita Map Turtles basking on a log in the Neosho River. Image © Nick Gomez.
An adult False Map Turtle from Riley County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Adult Ouachita Map Turtle from Wilson County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Adult Ouachita Map Turtle from Sumner County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Ouachita Map Turtle from Kingman County. Image © Ken Brunson.
An adult False Map Turtle from Riley County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult False Map Turtle from Geary County, Kansas.. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
An adult Ouachita Map Turtle from Neosho County, Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Adult Ouachita Map Turtle from Linn County. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.

False and Ouachita Map Turtles can be differentiated from each other by the shape and placement of the markings on their head. There is not currently a method to differentiate them by the shape or coloration of their shell. The two species are grouped together into one account because many of the specimens in collections are only shells.
Both species have a low keeled ridge along the top of the carapace (top shell) that has rear-pointing projections (knobs) toward the head. Their head color is dark brown with many, cream to yellow lines and spots of various sizes and thicknesses. The carapace is brown to green with thin light colored markings, that fade on larger turtles. Specimens often have 2-4 dark diffuse-edged spots along the side. The entire carapace is sometimes obfuscated by algae growing on the shell. The plastron (lower shell) is cream to light yellow with occasional paired diffuse-edged dark spots. Their legs and tail are brown with cream to yellow stripes running down them.
The range of head markings on the False Map Turtle (G. pseudogeographica) is quite variable. Typically, they have prominent (yet thin) yellow line behind each eye on the top of the head. The inside of each line tapers toward the mid-line of the head and turns toward the neck. In many specimens, the bar behind the eye will form a thin crescent around the back of the eye on the side of the head.
The head markings of the Ouachita Map Turtle (G. ouachitensis) are less variable and consists of a large squarish blotch behind each eye on the top of the head, which tapers abruptly toward the mid-line and then turns toward the neck. They typically possess a prominent yellow spot between their eye and mouth on each side of the head, and another below it on the lower jaw. In a few specimens, the large blotch behind the eyes may connect with the spot below the eye, to form a thicker jagged 'angled' crescent.
Adults normally 90-200 mm (3½-8 inches) in carapace length; largest specimen from Kansas: female (KU Color Slide 11236) from Riley County with a carapace length of 256 mm (10 inches) collected by Steven Seitz and Robert Seitz on 2 August 1996; maximum carapace length throughout range: 10 5/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

The False Map Turtle (G. pseudogeographica) is known from the following river basins in Kansas: Kansas (Kansas [including the Solomon to Glen Elder Lake and Saline to Wilson Lake], the entire lengths of the Walnut, Caney, Verdigris, Fall, Neosho, and Spring rivers, and the upper Marais des Cygnes River). They have not been reported from much of the Marais des Cygnes River basin in Kansas.
The Ouachita Map Turtle (G. ouachitensis) is known from the following river basins in Kansas; Marais des Cygnes, Spring, Neosho, Verdigris, Fall, Walnut, and Arkansas/Pawnee [to Pawnee County]. There are localized populations along the Kansas River to Geary County.
These turtles are found in the rivers and streams of eastern Kansas, making it out onto the plains along the Arkansas, Pawnee, Saline, Smoky Hill, and Solomon Rivers. 
Localities mapped in Collins (1994) from Coffey County (KU 3287-8) are too imprecise to map. Pleistocene fossils are known from Meade County. This record lies well west of the currently recognized distribution of this species.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 240 Total Records 
  • 138 Museum Vouchers 
  • 102 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (6); Butler (3); Chase (2); Chautauqua (12); Cherokee (3); Coffey (2); Cowley (7); Crawford (2); Doniphan (4); Douglas (17); Franklin (1); Geary (1); Greenwood (5); Harper (1); Harvey (5); Johnson (1); Kingman (9); Labette (17); Leavenworth (2); Lincoln (5); Linn (1); Lyon (5); Marion (4); McPherson (1); Miami (1); Mitchell (17); Montgomery (11); Morris (11); Neosho (6); Osage (1); Ottawa (4); Pawnee (3); Pottawatomie (2); Riley (3); Russell (20); Saline (1); Sedgwick (4); Shawnee (1); Sumner (7); Unknown (7); Wabaunsee (3); Wilson (10); Woodson (8); Wyandotte (3);

Natural History:
False/Ouachita Map Turtles occur in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. Predominantly eat snails, mussels, and aquatic insects, although females will also eat a considerable amount of aquatic vegetation.
Can often be observed from bridges over the streams where they occur. Like other map turtles, the males are much smaller than the females.

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.
First reported in Kansas by Hallowell (1856). The earliest existing specimen is from 1911 (KU 3297).
Many of the available specimens from Kansas do not permit examination of the skull or they exist as a shell only. Consequently, we cannot with certainty assign any particular specimen to a species and have elected instead, to retain the complex which recognizes that separate, but cryptic, species do exist. Genetic analyses coupled with additional morphological examination are needed to adequately address the distribution and status of all three species of this complex in the state.

1857 Hallowell, Edward. Notice of a collection of reptiles from Kansas and Nebraska presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, by Doctor Hammond, U. S. A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():238-253
1882 Yarrow, Henry C. Check list of North American Reptilia and Batrachia with catalogue of specimens in U. S. National Museum. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (24):1-249
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Recent additions to the list of Kansas reptiles and batrachians, with further notes on species previously reported. Bulletin of the Washburn College Laboratory of Natural History 1(3):100-103
1885 Cragin, Francis W. Second contribution to the herpetology of Kansas, with observations on the Kansas fauna. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 9():136-140
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1922 Loding, H. P. A preliminary catalogue of Alabama amphibians and reptiles. Geological Survey of Alabama, Museum Paper (5):59
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1931 Haltom, William L. Alabama reptiles. Alabama Museum of Natural History Museum Paper (11):1-145
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,Massachusetts. pp.
1953 Cagle, Fred R. Two new subspecies of Graptemys pseudogeographica. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (546):17
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
1987 Black, Jeffrey H., Jimmie Pigg, and Richard L. Lardie. Distribution records of Graptemys. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 23(2):65-68
1992 Edds, David R. Population status and incidence of anatomical abnormalities in semiaquatic turtles of the Walnut and lower Arkansas river basins. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. 58pp.
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Graptemys pseudogeographica. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 23():88
1993 Vogt, Richard C Systematics of the fals map turtles (Graptemys pseudogeographica complex: Reptilia, Testudines, Emydidae) Annals of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History 62():1-46
1994 McCoy, Clarence J., Jr. and Richard C. Vogt. Graptemys. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (584):1-3
1995 Vogt, Richard C. Graptemys ouachitensis. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (603):1-4
1995 Vogt, Richard C. Graptemys pseudogeographica. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (604):1-6
1998 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1997. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (111):12-14
2000 Van Doren, Mark D. and Curtis J. Schmidt. A herpetological survey of the Fort Larned National Historic Site, Pawnee County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):8-11
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
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 Smith, Ashley D. Intraspecific Phylogeography of Graptemys ouachitensis. Thesis. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. 31pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
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:
11/19/2018 2:20:26 PM

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