Abstract

A detailed understanding of the spatial ecology and habitat requirements of endangered species is critical for population restoration and conservation. Home ranges and movements of the endangered Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) were investigated in the Yellow River, northwestern China, from October 2016 to July 2018. We monitored 9 adult turtles (5 females and 4 males) with radio transmitters. Mean linear range size was 440 ± 161 m SD, mean river channel area was 1.98 ± 0.72 ha SD, the average minimum convex polygon was 1.36 ± 0.65 ha SD, average 95% kernel density estimator measured 0.84 ± 0.51 ha SD, with a core area (50% kernel density estimator) of 0.30 ± 0.20 ha SD. Home range values were not significantly different between the sexes nor were they related to straight-line carapace length or mass. Daily movements of P. sinensis averaged 35 ± 18 m SD for males and 43 ± 18 m SD for females, and there was no significant difference between sexes or significant correlation between movement patterns and body size. However, during the nesting season, there was a significant difference between sexes. Turtle activity was highest in May (average daily movement 59 ± 6 m SD) and lowest in January (0.4 ± 0.6 m SD). Given that P. sinensis individuals have small home ranges and are capable of existing in small rivers, management efforts should protect smaller rivers that may be easily overlooked. Results from this study provide the first assessment of home range requirements for P. sinensis, which may be used in future population modeling efforts and are important for establishing conservation strategies for this vulnerable species.

You do not currently have access to this content.