Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable as Wollumbinia belli
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Wollumbinia belli (Bell's Turtle) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2013dm) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzq) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011m) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Elseya sp. nov. (AMS-R140984).
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Elseya belli.
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (151) (31/05/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013r) [Legislative Instrument] as Wollumbinia belli.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Bell's Turtle - profile (NSW Office and Environment and Heritage (NSW OEH), 2014) [Internet].
NSW:Bells Turtle - vulnerable species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage - Scientific Committee (NSW OEH SC), 1997a) [Internet].
QLD:Enhancing biodiversity hotspots along Western Queensland stock routes (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM), 2009a) [Management Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Elseya belli
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Wollumbinia belli [86071]
Family Chelidae:Testudines:Reptilia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (J.E. Gray, 1844)
Infraspecies author  
Reference Georges, A. & Thomson, S. (2010) Diversity of Australasian freshwater turtles, with an annotated synonymy and keys to species. Zootaxa 2496:28 (as Myuchelys belli)
Other names Elseya sp. nov. (AMS-R140984) [64485]
Elseya belli [66690]
Elseya sp. nov. (Namoi River, NSW) [66847]
Myuchelys belli [86075]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Bell's Turtle is a reptile similar to Elseya latisternum with a pale to bright yellow streak/stripe extending from the lower jaw to and along the lower side of the neck, sometimes continuous with a yellow chin and throat (Cogger 2000).

This species is known only from the headwaters of the Namoi and Gwydir Rivers, west of Armidale NSW, between 700 and 800 m asl (Cogger et al. 1993; Cann 1998). Localities in the two catchments are separated narrowly by the Nandewar Ra. Known localities include the Macdonald R. (also known as Muluerindie Ck) west of Uralla and Roumalla Ck near Kingston (Cogger et al. 1993). A disjunct and possibly distinct population also occurs in Bald Rock Ck, south-eastern Qld. The western boundary of the distribution coincides with where the rivers leave the escarpment before meeting the Darling River (Cann 1998).

Georges & Adams (1992) recognised the population of Elseya latisternum in the Gwydir R., now considered to be E. belli, as distinct.

Occurs in the upper reaches and smaller tributaries of major rivers flowing through granitic bedrock (Cogger et al. 1993; Cann 1998). Turtles prefer narrow stretches of river, 30 to 40 m wide, with pools up to 3 m deep. The riverbed is sandy and rocky, with small beds of weed (Cann 1998).

Much of the land surrounding the rivers is used for grazing sheep and cattle. Some riparian vegetation remains in the form of numerous Eucalypts and introduced willows (Cann 1998).

Plant material such as fine aquatic weeds, stems of plants up to 30 mm long and terrestrial leaves form the bulk of the diet. Invertebrates are also taken, including crayfish (Carex sp.) and aquatic insects. All turtles examined had consumed large amounts of sediment (Cann 1998).

Faecal analysis indicates that turtles may be scavengers, or that some feed indiscriminately due to an eye disability appearing as cloudiness or cataracts. One individual had consumed a feather 8 cm long (Cann 1998).

Nesting occurs between Oct. and mid-Jan., when females lay 8 to 23 firm eggs. Hatchlings emerge after 80 days when incubated at 27°C (Cann 1998).

One captive female laid 20 eggs in Jan., five of which were infertile. The female had not been kept with any male turtles for four years (Cann 1998).

No natural undisturbed nests have been located. Vandalised sites have been found in loamy soil (Cann 1998).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Elseya belli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ib) [Internet].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat alteration (vegetation, soil, hydrology) due to trampling and grazing by livestock Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Elseya belli (Bell's Turtle) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dr) [Conservation Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Elseya belli (Bell's Turtle) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dr) [Conservation Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Elseya belli (Bell's Turtle) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dr) [Conservation Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Habitat deterioration due to soil degradation and erosion Elseya belli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ib) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Elseya belli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ib) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Elseya belli (Bell's Turtle) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dr) [Conservation Advice].
Pollution:Pollution:Changes to water and sediment flows leading to erosion, siltation and pollution Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Elseya belli (Bell's Turtle) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dr) [Conservation Advice].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Elseya belli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ib) [Internet].

Cann, J. (1998). Australian Freshwater Turtles. Singapore: Beaumont Publishing Pty Ltd.

Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia - 6th edition. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland.

Cogger, H.G., E.E. Cameron, R.A. Sadlier & P. Eggler (1993). The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/action/reptiles/index.html.

Georges, A. & M. Adams (1992). A phylogeny for Australian chelid turtles based on allozyme electrophoresis. Australian Journal of Zoology. 40:453-476.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Wollumbinia belli in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 17 Sep 2014 04:43:06 +1000.