Macro- and microhabitat preferences of Eastern Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri)
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Macro- and microhabitat preference of Testudo hermanni boettgeri, the eastern subspecies of Hermann’s tortoise, was investigated utilizing modified methodology for the western subspecies which emphasized the importance of habitat heterogeneity preservation. The study objective was to explore the habitat preferences of the eastern subspecies of T. hermanni. Research was conducted within the same year at four localities in Eastern and Southeastern Serbia. Macrohabitat determination was conducted using a 0 to 5 land cover score system (coverage with herbaceous, bushy or tree vegetation) for 4 m2 tortoise encounter surroundings. Microhabitat analysis was carried out by determining the plant species in closest contact with the tortoise in the moment of recording. Plants were classified into six groups: 1) aromatic, 2) bramble, 3) herbaceous, 4) thorny shrub, 5) tree and 6) non-thorny shrubs. X2 test was used for comparison between expected and empirical habitat preference. Results confirmed that the most attractive macrohabitats for Eastern Hermann’s tortoises in this part of the Balkans are meadows and open shrublands, with the addition of dense forest (important in wormer months), what is concordant with earlier data from the Mediterranean part of former Yugoslavia. The most attractive microhabitats were “herbaceous plants”, followed by “bramble”.