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German Journal of Herpetology

Silveira, M. L., F. M. Quintela, S. Huckembeck & D. Loebmann

In Issues 2020

Home range in freshwater turtles and tortoises: implications for conservation. pp. 48-56

Abstract. Use of space refers to the quantity and quality of habitat exploitation by animals in a certain locality. While quantity is the area of space used by the animal for its activities, quality refers to the locale and manner in which the animal selects its home range. Both parameters are of crucial importance in driving species distribution and abundance. Testudines are distributed across diverse regions, including areas under severe anthropogenic pressure, and many species are threatened, mainly due to habitat loss and overexploitation. We reviewed scientific literature published between 1995 and 2016 to assess taxonomic and geographic patterns in home ranges of freshwater and terrestrial chelonians based on biological and ecological characteristics and conservation status. We examined the trait “home range size”, as well as its relationships with intrinsic and extrinsic factors (sex, diet, carapace size, habitat and study zone) and species-specific conservation status. Many of the reviewed studies focus on the Nearctic region, and Emydidae is the most commonly studied family. We found great variation in the home range sizes of species within the same family. Diet was identified as the main driver of home range size. Sex, carapace size, habitat and study zone were not significant as predictors of home range size. Conservation status does not seem to represent a factor driving the assessed studies since the number of investigations concerning threatened and non-threatened species was similar. Home range sizes of threatened species were significantly lower than those of non-threatened species. We recommend priority be applied on information gathering and defining conservation strategies for species in undersampled areas threatened by habitat loss.

Key words. Testudines, conservation status, home range size, movement, non-marine turtles, spatial ecology.

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