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Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 991–1011 | Cite as

Changes in the status of tortoise populations in Greece 1984–2001

  • A. Hailey
  • R.E. Willemsen
Article

Abstract

Three species of tortoise (Testudinidae) occur in Greece (Testudo hermanni, T. graeca and the endemic T. marginata), all of which have been listed as rare or vulnerable. This paper describes the current situation of 75 populations that were last observed in the 1970s and 1980s and described in 1989. Twenty-nine populations had declined in density and/or status (significantly more than had improved), 10 of which were functionally extinct. A particularly notable loss was a dense population of T. marginata at Gytheion in the Peloponnese due to a widespread fire. Declining populations were significantly associated with identified high threat in 1989 and with close proximity to human settlement. There were no significant effects of tortoise species, area of site, characteristics of surrounding areas or original density on these changes. Declines were less associated with agriculture than predicted in 1989, reflecting changing economic conditions in Greece in the 1990s. Continuing threats to tortoise habitats make their long-term future appear bleak outside of protected areas. The risk of extinction from stochastic variation in small populations was also assessed, using the VORTEX program. This risk was much lower than that from habitat loss; 60–96% of populations of 100 tortoises would survive for 1000 years, depending on adult body size, compared to only 0–0.02% of habitats. The high survival potential of small populations would facilitate conservation of the high intraspecific diversity of tortoises in Greece.

Density Endemic Extinction Fire Greece Habitat loss Status Testudo marginata Tortoise VORTEX 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Hailey
  • R.E. Willemsen

There are no affiliations available

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