Body size, sex and high philopatry influence the use of agricultural land by Galapagos giant tortoises

Pike, Kyana N., Blake, Stephen, Cabrer, Freddy, Gordon, Iain J., and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2022) Body size, sex and high philopatry influence the use of agricultural land by Galapagos giant tortoises. Oryx, 56 (1). pp. 16-25.

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As agricultural areas expand, interactions between wild animals and farmland are increasing. Understanding the nature of such interactions is vital to inform the management of human-wildlife coexistence. We investigated patterns of space use of two Critically Endangered Galapagos tortoise species, Chelonoidis porteri and Chelonoidis donfaustoi, on privately owned and agricultural land (hereafter farms) on Santa Cruz Island, where a human-wildlife conflict is emerging. We used GPS data from 45 tortoises tracked for up to 9 years, and data on farm characteristics, to identify factors that influence tortoise movement and habitat use in the agricultural zone. Sixty-nine per cent of tagged tortoises used the agricultural zone, where they remained for a mean of 150 days before returning to the national park. Large male tortoises were more likely to use farms for longer periods than female and smaller individuals. Tortoises were philopatric (mean overlap of farmland visits = 88.7 ± SE 2.9%), on average visiting four farms and occupying a mean seasonal range of 2.9 ± SE 0.3 ha. We discuss the characteristics of farm use by tortoises, and its implications for tortoise conservation and coexistence with people.

Item ID: 70670
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-3008
Keywords: Agriculture, conservation, continuous time movement models, Galapagos giant tortoise, GPS tracking, habitat use, human-wildlife conflict, occurrence distribution
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Copyright Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2021 01:10
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity @ 100%
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