Home / Aquaculture / KEYSTONE SPECIES OF YELLOW-BELLIED MUD TURTLE PELUSIOS CASTANOIDES (HEWITT, 1931) SOUTH-EAST ARM OF MALAWI

KEYSTONE SPECIES OF YELLOW-BELLIED MUD TURTLE PELUSIOS CASTANOIDES (HEWITT, 1931) SOUTH-EAST ARM OF MALAWI

By:

1 Dr Vaitheeswaran Thiruvengadam Lecturer , Department of Aquaculture, DMI St.John the Baptist University, Mangochi Campus, Republic of Malawi, Central Africa

2 Dr Anu Jesus, Lecturer II, Department of Computer Science, DMI St.John the Baptist University, Lilongwe Campus, Republic of Malawi

3 Dr Mustapha ABA, Aquaculture Researcher, Fish Nutrition, Morocco

4 Lecturer 1, Department of Computer Science, DMI St.John the Baptist University, Mangochi Campus, Republic of Malawi, Central Africa

5 Sr. Lecturer, Department of Management and Commerce, DMI St.John the Baptist University, Mangochi Campus, Republic of Malawi, Central Africa

6 Lecturer II, Department of Basic Studies, DMI St.John the Baptist University, Mangochi Campus, Republic of Malawi, Central Africa.

7 Mrs P.Jenifer, lecturerII. Departement of Basic Studies, DMIST Baptist University, Malawi.

Introduction

The yellow-bellied mud turtle is a species of turtle in the family Pelomedusidae. The family Pelomedusidae contains approximately 26 species within five genera. Two subfamilies are recognized within the Pelomedusidae: Pelomedusinae (Pelomedusa and Pelusios) and Podocneminae (PodocnemisPeltocephalus, and Erymnochelys). The present report was recorded the yellow-bellied mud turtle Pelusios castanoides Hewitt, 1931 from Mangochi, Republic of Malawi, Central Africa (Fig 1 and 2). Skin coloration is variable. Pelomedusids are diagnosed by the lack of a cervical scute, nasal bone, and splenial bone, as well as the shapes of the cervical vertebrae. The occurrence of this species in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania. According to Environmental Affairs Department (2006) report was estimated that approximately 47 species of the 172 species of molluscs, 12 species of reptiles and about seven species of amphibians, especially frogs, are endemic to Malawi. The 2002 IUCN Red Data List of Threatened Plants for Malawi lists 14 endangered, 89 vulnerable, and 25 critically endangered species. Approximately 114 plant species are known from only a few localities in Malawi but none of these are formally protected. Only eleven plant species have legal protection in Malawi.

Habitat and Ecology

P;castanoides usually occurs in lowland rivers and lake, with tiny quantities in some marshlands; population densities was highest in fresh water aquatic area, reaching 133-150 tortoise per ha (Gerlach and Canning, 2001; Gerlach 2008). Growth of captive bred individuals indicate that adult size may be reached after 2-3 years, further no data from wild animals on the age of sexual maturity and longevity. According to Gerlach (2008) has reviewed that the nesting occurs during the wet season (December-March) and clutch size is 3-13, with elongate, soft-shelled eggs weighting 6.6-10.5 g for each. He also revealed that the species are shallow nests are dug in sandy soil. Eggs incubated at 29-30°C have hatched after 51-52 days, but survival of hatching has been very low and it is thought that these have been premature and that natural incubation might be longer than 52 days.

Food and Feeding

Food and feeding are includes aquatic invertebrates, finfish, amphibians and aquatic plants. Freshwater snails forms a major part of the diet of breeding females. Most populations appear to be nocturnal (During the night time, but in separated areas diurnal activity (Day time) has been observed.

Threats

Pelusios castanoides have threatened by different riverine channels of wetlands, canalization reducing access to nesting areas, invasion of aquatic habitats by introduced plants (nearby water hyacinth and lettuce), and possibly predation of adults by dogs and of juveniles and eggs by cats and tenrecs. Taxonomical studies in both morphological and phylogenetic studies, and a new light on biological aspects (length-weight relationship, size range, food and
feeding, maturity stages and fecundity, migration pattern). The future studies are need for the assessment of population dynamics and stock of P. castanoides of Southeast of Arm of Malawi lake.

Fig 1. Dorsal view of Pelusios castanoides Hewitt, 1931

Fig 2. Ventral view of Pelusios castanoides Hewitt, 1931

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