This book is an in-depth look at the natural history of every turtle species found in Iowa. Each of the thirteen species accounts include a sampling of the common names the species has been known by in the past, the first specimens collected in the state, and a brief history of the early Iowa literature related to the species, along with a complete description and a discussion of similar species, distribution in the state, habitat, behavior, threats, foods and feeding, and reproduction.

While readers will be able to identify Iowa’s turtles through its species accounts, identification keys, and beautiful photographs and illustrations, this book is intended to be more than a field guide. What makes it truly unique is the comparison of historic data collected by Iowa herpetologists in the 1930s and 1940s with data collected by the authors, along with James L. Christiansen and others, since 1960. Custom maps show the reader how species’ distributions have changed over time. This book contains Iowa-specific data found nowhere else and is essential to all who study turtles in the Midwest.

“Using location records and field data from the past eighty years, VanDeWalle and Bernstein provide a comprehensive overview of the turtles of Iowa that is both accessible to the casual reptile enthusiast and useful to midwestern research herpetologists. The book is both engaging and revealing, lavishly illustrated, and provides a thorough understanding of Iowa’s turtles, including how to identify them, where they live, how they feed and reproduce, and, importantly, how the anthropogenic changes of the past century have negatively impacted them. This evidenced-based book is essential to all who study turtles in the Midwest and provides a current snapshot of what we know about each of the thirteen species that inhabit an area that is at the crossroads of several major biological and geological regions.”—Jeff Tamplin, University of Northern Iowa

“This book represents the most comprehensive collection of information on Iowa’s turtles to date. The authors provide a thorough review of both past and current research, which helps provide the reader an accurate representation of the ecological role of turtles across the state’s aquatic environments. The content also helps to dispel misconceptions regarding perceived negative impacts of turtles on Iowa’s waterbodies; instead, highlighting their value within our aquatic communities. This book is a great read for the layperson with a keen interest in turtles, as well as a useful reference tool for natural resource researchers and managers alike. I commend the authors for a job well done in drafting an impactful book that will be a welcome addition to anyone’s personal library!”—Chad Dolan, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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Publication Details

Publication Date
Trim size
6.5 x 9.25
14 color maps, 14 b&w figures, 62 color photos, 7 b&w images