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1 December 2009 Home Range and Daily Movement of Leopard Tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) in the Nama-Karoo, South Africa
Megan K. McMaster, Colleen T. Downs
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Seasonal shifts and overlap in home range are poorly known in the Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis). Consequently, these, together with daily distance moved, were investigated in the semiarid Nama-Karoo, as a function of season, sex, and body mass. Annual home-range size was significantly greater for telemetered compared with nontelemetered tortoises stressing the importance of telemetry in spatial ecological studies of tortoises. Consequently, only telemetered tortoises were analyzed further in terms of variation between seasons and sexes. Home ranges differed significantly with season and were smallest in winter, when tortoises were less active. Seasonal home-range size did not differ between sexes. Considerable individual variation existed in the amount of home-range overlap both within and between sexes. Daily distance moved in each season was highly variable for each individual and between individuals. However, the least movement occurred in winter in all individuals. Home-range size and daily distances moved in the active seasons were larger than for Leopard Tortoises found in more mesic habitats, suggesting a resource availability effect. Increased home-range size, in conjunction with their low density and population size, has implications for Leopard Tortoise conservation in semiarid regions in terms of planning and designating conservation areas. Variation in home-range size with regard to habitat type must be considered when planning terrestrial tortoise conservation efforts.

Megan K. McMaster and Colleen T. Downs "Home Range and Daily Movement of Leopard Tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) in the Nama-Karoo, South Africa," Journal of Herpetology 43(4), 561-569, (1 December 2009).
Accepted: 1 December 2008; Published: 1 December 2009
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