For nearly 200 million years, Earth has been occupied by reptiles—a lineage of terrestrial vertebrates that includes some, like birds, that have invaded the aerial environment, and others, like turtles, that have invaded aquatic environments. With thirty-nine known species, Alabama harbors more turtle species than any other state in the nation, and its Mobile River basin is the center of the world’s greatest biodiversity in turtles, surpassing all other river systems around the globe, including the Amazon and the Nile. Turtles of Alabama documents that extraordinary wealth and presents each species in full, describing its physical appearance, habitat and range, behavior, conservation and management, and taxonomy.
In addition to providing sixty-five full-color photographs of juveniles and adults along with forty-two colorfully detailed distribution maps, this volume features an introductory section explaining the physiography, climate, and habitats of the state, and offers illustrated taxonomic keys for all the species considered, including the oceanic behemoths that lay their eggs on Alabama’s gulf beaches and the lumbering gopher tortoise that provides safe haven for countless other animals and arthropods in its underground burrows of the Coastal Plain. With fine line drawings to highlight various distinguishing attributes of the animals, this volume is the definitive guide to the state’s fascinating and diverse turtle populations—freshwater, marine, and terrestrial.
Although they are notoriously slow-moving, turtles still survive on Earth because of their remarkable adaptations—an exterior shell for body protection, long lives, high reproductive output, stamina, and a capacity for doing without. Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that were here long before mammals, and they’re still around, continuing to adapt to many different habitats and ecological niches, still interbreeding, evolving, and speciating. Turtles of Alabama is a fitting celebration of that phenomenal variety and strength.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Craig Guyer is a professor of biological sciences at Auburn University, with special focus on herpetology, tropical ecology, and biogeography. He has authored and coauthored many scientific journal articles, and is the coauthor of Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. Mark A. Bailey is the owner, director, and senior biologist with Conservation Southeast, Inc., a resource management firm specializing in native habitats and species of the southeastern United States. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Alabama Wildlife Federation and has authored many conservation strategies and plans, most notably, the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Southeastern United States. Robert H. Mount is emeritus professor of biological sciences at Auburn University and the author of the seminal work Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama.
GOSSE NATURE GUIDES
Gary R. Mullen, L. J. Davenport, Elberta G. Reid, and Edward O. Wilson, advisory panel
PRAISE FOR TURTLES OF ALABAMA
“This book is very well written by an outstanding trio of herpetologists and will be accepted as a first rate effort by experts in the region. It is a critical source of information for researchers, including students involved in projects anywhere in the Southeast, and is a useful reference for wildlife biologists and conservationists, as well as general naturalists in Alabama and adjoining states. The natural history facts are accurate, and the information presented about the various species is useful to all readers.”
—Whit Gibbons, coauthor of Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia and Snakes of the Southeast
“This new treatise on Alabama reptiles has been anxiously awaited. Turtles of Alabama will instantly become the de facto, must-have, authoritative book on Alabama’s turtle species for years to come.”
—Roger Clay, certified wildlife biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
6 X 9, 288 pp
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5806-8 Paper
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8817-1 Ebook