Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 1817–1843 | Cite as

Introduction and invasion of the red-eared slider and its parasites in freshwater ecosystems of Southern Europe: risk assessment for the European pond turtle in wild environments

  • Laurent Héritier
  • Aitor Valdeón
  • Amel Sadaoui
  • Thomas Gendre
  • Sébastien Ficheux
  • Salah Bouamer
  • Nadia Kechemir-Issad
  • Louis Du Preez
  • Carmen Palacios
  • Olivier Verneau
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Invasive species


The North American red-eared slider Trachemys scripta elegans, which is nowadays considered among the world’s worst invasive species, could constitute a real threat to native freshwater turtles. Because this species shares the same habitats of the European pond turtle Emys orbicularis since its introduction in the European wetlands, we surveyed populations of both alien and indigenous species in France and Spain in order to determine the diversity of platyhelminth parasites (Monogenea, Polystomatidae) in natural environments and to evaluate the levels of risks associated with parasitism. DNA barcoding procedure based on partial cytochrome c oxydase I sequences revealed ten monogenean parasite species within E. orbicularis populations and/or captive animals among which at least eight could be considered as introduced parasites from American freshwater turtles. Results indicated that host switching could have occurred either in natural environments or in captivity, when indigenous turtles were kept with exotic species, demonstrating that captive turtles could act as reservoirs of parasites. The presence of non-native parasite species within wild populations of E. orbicularis in the European freshwater ecosystems also highlighted the risks that these parasites may pose on the survival of natural turtle’s populations and on the dynamics of native parasites.


Freshwater ecosystems Biological Invasions DNA barcoding Parasites Emys orbicularis Trachemys scripta elegans 



We are grateful to Laurent Barthe, Valérie Bosc, Ludovic Cases, Lionel Courmont, Marine Couronne, Anthony Labouille, Guilhem Mollera, Julie Peinado, Anthony Olivier, Denis Reudet, Zoé Owen-Jones and people from Fédération de l’Hérault pour la Pêche et la Protection du Milieu Aquatique, Maison de la Nature de Lattes and EPTB du Vistre for their help in collecting turtles and/or their parasites in French wetlands, to César Ayres for his help for collecting turtles and/or their parasites in Galicia and to Françoise Malirach, Paul Barbazange and Roger Oller for facilities in collecting polystome eggs in turtle farms. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Financial support for this research was provided by grants from the CNRS, région Languedoc-Roussillon and Veolia Eau Perpignan.

Supplementary material

10531_2017_1331_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (54 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Héritier
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aitor Valdeón
    • 3
    • 4
  • Amel Sadaoui
    • 5
  • Thomas Gendre
    • 6
  • Sébastien Ficheux
    • 7
    • 8
  • Salah Bouamer
    • 9
  • Nadia Kechemir-Issad
    • 5
  • Louis Du Preez
    • 10
    • 11
  • Carmen Palacios
    • 1
    • 2
  • Olivier Verneau
    • 1
    • 2
    • 10
  1. 1.Univ. Perpignan Via Domitia, Centre de Formation et de Recherche sur les Environnements Méditerranéens, UMR 5110PerpignanFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, Centre de Formation et de Recherche sur les Environnements Méditerranéens, UMR5110PerpignanFrance
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Regional PlaningUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  4. 4.Department of HerpetologyAranzadi Society of SciencesDonostia-San SebastiánSpain
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Biodiversité et Environnement: Interactions, Génomes, Faculté des Sciences BiologiquesUniversité des Sciences et de la Technologie Houari BoumedienneBab-EzzouarAlgeria
  6. 6.Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels du Languedoc-RoussillonMontpellierFrance
  7. 7.Tour du Valat, Centre de Recherche pour la Conservation des Zones Humides MéditerranéennesArlesFrance
  8. 8.Equipe Eco-Evo, UMR 6282 Biogéosciences, Université de BourgogneDijonFrance
  9. 9.Département Performances des Systèmes de Production et de Transformation TropicauxStation CIRAD de NeufchâteauCapesterre-Belle-EauFrance
  10. 10.Unit for Environmental Sciences and ManagementNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  11. 11.South African Institute for Aquatic BiodiversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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