Sharing land with giants: Habitat preferences of Galapagos tortoises on farms

Pike, Kyana N., Blake, Stephen, Gordon, Iain J., Cabrera, Freddy, Nieto-Claudin, Ainoa, Deem, Sharon L., Guézou, Anne, and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2022) Sharing land with giants: Habitat preferences of Galapagos tortoises on farms. Global Ecology and Conservation, 37. e02171.

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Abstract

One of the most pressing dilemmas of our time is determining how to satisfy the demands of a growing human population while still conserving biodiversity. Worldwide, land modification to accommodate human resource needs has caused significant declines in wildlife populations. To help minimize biodiversity loss, we must support wildlife on human-dominated land, such as farms and urban areas, but our knowledge of how to do so is lacking. Agriculture is a major driver of land modification; but also has the potential to play a role in conserving biodiversity. To support critically endangered ecosystem engineers that use farms, such as giant Galapagos tortoises, we need to understand the characteristics encouraging or hindering them. To quantify tortoise habitat preferences, we assessed the relationship between tortoise density, habitat structure, and land-use type, by recording tortoise density on farms on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, over two years. Tortoise density was lowest in abandoned farmland and highest in tourist areas and was most strongly positively correlated with abundant ground cover, short vegetation, and few shrubs. The habitat features favoured by tortoises could potentially be manipulated to help support tortoise conservation on farms. Measuring wildlife preferences in human-dominated areas is an important step towards balancing biodiversity conservation and human-enterprise.

Item ID: 76445
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2351-9894
Keywords: Giant tortoise, Habitat preference, Habitat structure, Land sharing, Wildlife-friendly farming
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2022 02:09
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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