European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 47–55 | Cite as

Habitat selection and movement ecology of eastern Hermann’s tortoises in a rural Romanian landscape

Original Paper

Abstract

Understanding wildlife movements and habitat selection are critical to drafting conservation and management plans. We studied a population of eastern Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) in a traditionally managed rural landscape in Romania, near the northern edge of the species geographic distribution. We used telemetry to radio-track 24 individuals between 2005 and 2008 and performed a Euclidian distance-based habitat selection analysis to investigate habitats preferred by tortoises at both landscapes (second-order order selection) and individual (third-order selection) home range scales. The home range size for tortoises in our study area was 3.79 ± 0.62 ha and did not differ by gender or season (pre- and post-nesting seasons). Their movement ecology was characterized by short-distance movements (daily mean = 31.18 ± 1.59 m), apparently unaffected by habitat type. In contrast to other studies, movements of males and females were of similar magnitude. At the landscape (population home range) scale, grasslands and shrubs were preferred, but tortoises also showed affinity to forest edges. At the individual home range scale, tortoises selected grassland and shrub habitats, avoided forests, and used forest edges randomly. Creeks were avoided at both spatial scales. Our results suggest that tortoise home ranges contain well-defined associations of habitats despite a higher selection for grasslands. As such, avoiding land conversion to other uses and maintaining habitat heterogeneity through traditional practices (e.g., manual mowing of grasslands, livestock grazing) are critical for the persistence of tortoise populations.

Keywords

Rural landscape Romania Testudo hermanni boettgeri Habitat selection Home range Movements 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Environmental Research and Impact StudiesUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Earth2Ocean Research Group Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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