New Record of Two Non-Native Sternotherus Turtles in The Wild of South Korea

  • Hae-Jun Baek (Conservation Genome Resources Bank for Korean Wildlife (CGRB) and Research Institute for Veterinary Science College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University) ;
  • Minjeong Seok (Invasive Alien Species Research Team, Bureau of Survey and Safety Research, National Institute of Ecology) ;
  • Jongwon Song (Invasive Alien Species Research Team, Bureau of Survey and Safety Research, National Institute of Ecology) ;
  • Su-Hwan Kim (Wetland Research Team, Wetland Center, National Institute of Ecology)
  • Received : 2024.02.16
  • Accepted : 2024.04.15
  • Published : 2024.05.01


The remarkable economic growth achieved in the modern era has revitalized various industries, including pet trade. More than 2,000 species of non-native species have been introduced to South Korea and approximately 7.7 tonnes of alien turtles are imported annually. Turtles belonging to the family Kinosternidae. They are mostly small and popular pets, although they are designated as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) species. In the present study, we present the first two species of musk turtles found in the wild in South Korea. On April 5, 2023 and July 8, 2023, an eastern musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) and a razorbacked musk turtle (Sternotherus carinatus) were captured in Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do and Jung-gu, Daejeon, respectively. The carapace length was 88.6 mm for S. odoratus and 105.68 mm for S. carinatus. They were identified based on their morphological characteristics and mtDNA cytochrome b gene. These turtles were found in waterfront areas with over 1.4 million annual visitors. Both sites were found to have threatened amphibians and reptiles. There is an urgent need to continue monitoring and conducting risk assessments for the protection of endemic species in Korea.



We would like to thank the members of the National Institute of Ecology's Invasive Alien Species Team for their help in carrying out this research, and we are grateful for the support provided by grants NIE-A-2024-12 and NIE-D-2023-95.


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