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Conservation diagnosis of reintroducing Mediterranean pond turtles: What is wrong?

AuthorsBertolero, Albert; Oro, Daniel
KeywordsReintroduction assessment criteria
Release cost
Mauremys leprosa
Issue Date2009
PublisherCambridge University Press
CitationAnimal Conservation 12(6): 581-591 (2009)
AbstractThe presence of the Mediterranean pond turtle . Mauremys leprosa in the Ebre Delta (Catalonia, north-east Spain) is well documented after the late 1970s, when the first reptile distribution lists were published. Owing to the fact that the species was considered scarce, a reintroduction programme based on the release of individuals at sites with potential habitat suitability was launched. From 1999 to 2001, 234 turtles of different ages were released and subsequently monitored until 2007, in order to make a conservation diagnosis using five assessment criteria. These criteria were body condition, individual growth, reproduction, survival and population growth rate. Despite the relatively large number of turtles released, no viable population resulted from the programme. Assessment criteria suggested that: (1) released individuals showed good physical condition and satisfactory growth (the only positive results); (2) reproduction was almost absent; (3) local survival was reduced compared with that of Spanish wild populations of the species; (4) temporary emigration was high; (5) the growth rate of the population was negative. In conclusion, the results suggested that the habitat at the Ebre Delta marshes may not be favourable to the species, and that the scarce historical data record may indicate a relatively low-quality habitat; the few records may correspond to individuals dispersing from the river, a more suitable habitat. Thus, we conclude that historically scarce records may be the result of natural patchiness and heterogeneous distributions, and they are not necessarily a good indicator of relict, decimated populations. Good assessment criteria, as those proposed and used here, are necessary tools to assess results in reintroduction projects to recover endangered chelonian populations. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 The Zoological Society of London.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2009.00284.x
issn: 1367-9430
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
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