The importance of protected and unprotected areas for the Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise demography in Northwest Morocco: supplementary material
datasetposted on 05.03.2019, 06:35 by Amalia Segura, Pelayo Acevedo
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Collection for the pet trade has been considered one of the major threats to the Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise Testudo graeca, since it modulates the size and structure of the species’ populations and, therefore, their demography. Maamora forest is one of the most suitable habitats for this species. The proximity of the forest to Rabat indicated the possibility of these tortoise populations being particularly sensitive to over-collecting. Population demography was studied in four populations, in protected and unprotected areas in Maamora forest. The results showed significant differences as regards population size and structure between protected and unprotected areas. They specifically highlighted: i) higher density (23-17 indiv·ha-1) balanced populations in the protected areas, in which young adults were predominant, ii) a higher body condition in the protected areas, especially the females, and iii) a low density (5.5 ind·ha-1) more unbalance population in the unprotected areas, in which older females and younger males were predominant. In addition, a survey carried out by interviewing local adults (n = 200) showed that most people owned tortoises (61%, n = 200), mainly juveniles (65%, n = 123). The respondents stated that their tortoises had been captured in the forest (68%, n = 123). Maamora forest is home to one of the highest density populations of Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises documented to date, and its conservation is essential if this species is to be maintained. Our social survey suggested that one of the challenges is to change the social perception of the Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise as a pet and highlight its intrinsic ecological value.