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Pelodiscus sinensis WIEGMANN, 1835

IUCN Red List - Pelodiscus sinensis - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaTrionychidae (Trionychinae), Trionychoidea, Testudines (turtles)
Common NamesE: Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle
G: Chinesische Weichschildkröte
Russian: Дальневосточная черепаха
Chinese: 中华鳖 
SynonymTestudo rostrata THUNBERG 1787
Testudo semimembranacea HERMANN 1804 (nomen oblitum)
Trionyx (Aspidonectes) sinensis WIEGMANN 1835
Trionyx stellatus var. japon[ica] TEMMINCK & SCHLEGEL 1835: pl. V (in SIEBOLD)
Trionyx tuberculatus CANTOR 1842: 482
Tyrse perocellata GRAY 1844: 48
Trionyx perocellatus — GRAY 1855: 65
Trionyx schlegeli BRANDT 1858: 610
Trionyx sinensis — STRAUCH 1862: 177
Landemania irrorata GRAY 1869: 216
Oscaria swinhoei GRAY 1873: 157
Gymnopus simonii DUMÉRIL 1875 (nomen nudum)
Yuen leprosus HEUDE 1880
Yuen viridis HEUDE 1880
Yuen pallens HEUDE 1880
Psilognathus laevis HEUDE 1880: 24
Temnognathus mordax HEUDE 1880: 26
Gomphopelta officinae HEUDE 1880: 27
Coelognathus novem-costatus HEUDE 1880: 29
Tortisternum novem-costatum HEUDE 1880: 31
Ceramopelta latirostris HEUDE 1880: 33
Coptopelta septem-costata HEUDE 1880: 35
Cinctisternum bicinctum HEUDE 1880: 37
Trionyx sinensis — GÜNTHER 1888: 166
Trionyx sinensis — BOULENGER 1889
Trionyx swinhonis BOULENGER 1889 (nom. subst. pro Oscaria swinhoei GRAY)
Trionyx cartilagineus var. newtoni FERREIRA 1897
Trionyx sinensis — SIEBENROCK 1907: 492
Amyda japonica — STEJNEGER 1907: 515
Amyda sinensis — STEJNEGER 1907: 524
Amyda schlegelii — STEJNEGER 1907: 526
Trionyx sinensis cyphus VOGT 1922 (nomen illegitimum)
Amyda sinensis — SCHMIDT 1927
Amyda schlegeli haseri PAWLOW 1932
Amyda schlegeli licenti PAWLOW 1932
Amyda sinensis — SHANNON 1956
Trionyx sinensis — ALDERTON 1988
Pelodiscus sinensis — COX et al. 1998: 135
Pelodiscus sinensis — CROTHER 2000
Pelodiscus sinensis — TTWG 2014
Pelodiscus sinensis japonicus — NCBI TAXONOMY 2016
Pelodiscus sinensis59726
Pelodiscus sinensis — TTWG 2021 
DistributionC/S China (Yunnan, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Anhui, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Fujian), N Vietnam, Hainan, Taiwan, S Far East (Russia), Japan (Bonin Islands), Indonesia (Timor), Japan, Philippines (Panay, Cebu)

introduced to Korea (Chang et al. 2012), Thailand and W Malaysia, USA (Hawaii), Philippines (Luzon, Diesmos 2008), and possibly Brazil (Felix-Silva et al. 2012; M. Hoogmoed, pers. comm. 7 May 2015); Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia

Type locality: Manzhouli
Type locality: "kleinen Insel in Tigerfluss, dicht bei Macao" (= small island in the Tiger River near Macao), China (fide KING & BURKE 1989).  
TypesLectotype: ZMB 38, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin; Syntypes: ZMB 38, 39 extant, and ZMB 37 lost. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The diagnostic morphological features of adults of all five Pelodiscus species are summarized in Table 4 in FARKAS et al. 2019: 78. 
CommentConservation: These softshell turtles are economically the most important chelonians of the world, with hundreds of millions of specimens traded as food every year. The annual production of Pelodiscus sp. amounts to 340,000 t in China alone. Moreover, Pelodiscus is used as a model organism for embryological and physiological studies, making correct species identification of paramount interest for disciplines beyond taxonomy.

Distribution: P. sinensis has been imported and has been in the natural habitats of Korea since 1970s (Chang et al. 2012). See map in Farkas et al. 2019: 82 (Fig. 6). Possibly introduced to Germany (Koppetsch 2021).

Taxonomy: Using the phylogenetic placement of all lineages and uncorrected p distances of the mitochondrial cytb gene as a yardstick, Stuckas & Fritz (2011) suggest that the observed sequence variation is consistent with the existence of at least four distinct species within Pelodiscus. The name P. sinensis should be restricted to turtles harbouring the mitochondrial lineages B, C, D and the lineage of the lectotype. More divergent lineages are to be identified with P. axenaria, P. maackii and P. parviformis, which are recognized as valid species by these authors.

Synonymy mainly after STEJNEGER 1907. Note that SIEBENROCK 1907: 492
synonymized most species described by STEJNEGER 1907 though. Trionyx maackii BRANDT 1858, previously considered as a synonym of P. sinensis, is now recognized as a valid species.

Hybridization: KUZMIN (2002) reported a hybrid between Apalone mutica and Pelodiscus sinensis.

Nomenclature. The International Comission of Zoological Nomenclature retained the name Trionyx sinensis WIEGMANN 1835 over Testudo rostrata THUNBERG 1787.

ZHAO (1997) believes that Pelodiscus (= Trionyx) arenaria ZHOU et al. (1991) is a juvenile form of P. sinensis.

The illustration of Trionyx sinensis in WERMUTH & MERTENS (1961: 277, Fig. 196a) is a copy of the holotype of Oscaria (= Rafetus) swinhoei (Gray, 1873c: 157 and Pl. V).

Type species: Trionyx (Aspidonectes) sinensis according to BAUR (1893) is the type species of Pelodiscus FITZINGER 1835. For a historical definition of Pelodiscus see BAUR (1893).

Genomics: this is one of the species selected by the Genome 10K consortium for complete genome sequencing and a draft genome has been published in 2013 (Wang et al. 2013).

Habitat: freshwater (rivers and tributaries, swamps) 
EtymologyNamed after its occurrence in China. 
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