Assessing the diet of the endangered Beale’s eyed turtle (Sacalia bealei) using faecal content and stable isotope analyses: Implications for conservation

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Turtles from Asia are on the brink of extinction with 53% of species considered endangered or critically endangered. Unfortunately, the ecology of many threatened species remains largely unknown. In this study, the diet of the endangered Beale’s eyed turtle (Sacalia bealei) was investigated using two methods, visual faecal content analysis and stable isotope analysis. Results from both methods indicated that S. bealei is highly reliant on riparian resources, especially fruits and terrestrial insects. Stable isotope data indicated that terrestrial resources made up around half (47–53%) of all assimilated food resources. These findings suggest that S. bealei facilitates energy flow from riparian forests to stream ecosystems. Moreover, S. bealei is likely to be a seed disperser for riparian plants. This study represents the first application of stable isotope methods to examine the diet of Asian freshwater turtles and their resource use. We stress the importance of similar studies to improve our understanding of remnant turtle populations before they disappear as a result of human activities.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems