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Dermatemys mawii (The Hicatee, Tortuga Blanca, or Central American River Turtle): A Working Bibliography

Venetia Briggs-Gonzalez1,*, Sergio C. Gonzalez1, Dustin Smith2, Kyle Allen1, Thomas R. Rainwater3, and Frank J. Mazzotti1

1University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314, USA. 2North Carolina Zoo, 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC 27205, USA.
3Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center and Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Clemson University, PO Box 596, Georgetown, SC 29442, USA. *Corresponding author.

Caribbean Naturalist, Special Issue No. 2 (2018)

Dermatemys mawii (Central American River Turtle), locally known in Belize as the “Hicatee” and in Guatemala and Mexico as Tortuga Blanca, is a large, highly aquatic freshwater turtle that has been extirpated from much of its historical range of southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, and lowland Belize. Throughout its restricted range, Dermatemys has been intensely harvested for its meat and eggs and sold in local markets. Despite being formally protected throughout their range, most D. mawaii populations have disappeared in Guatemala and Mexico and continue to decline in Belize because of intensive overhunting, which now includes commercial harvesting. As the last remaining species of the family Dermatemydidae, the Hicatee is one of the top 25 most exploited turtles worldwide and is classified as critically endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future) by the IUCN and listed on Appendix II of CITES. Countrywide surveys in Belize in 2010 confirmed D. mawaii populations are severely reduced in most areas, particularly in habitats more accessible to humans. These findings prompted the formation of the National Hicatee Conservation and Monitoring Network (NHCMN) in Belize in 2011. Through the NHCMN, plans were outlined for increased research, conservation, and educational efforts countrywide. Currently, relatively few data are available regarding several aspects of the life history of D. mawaii, including growth, behavioral and feeding ecology, and reproductive biology. The purpose of this working bibliography is to provide a comprehensive list of literature pertaining to D. mawaii with the goal of increasing scientific research, regulatory law enforcement, educational awareness, and species conservation.

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