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Sex-specific ecophysiological responses to environmental fluctuations of free-ranging Hermann's tortoises: implication for conservation

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by Adelaide Sibeaux, C L Michel, X Bonnet, S Caron, K Fournière, S Gagno, J-M Ballouard
Physiological parameters provide indicators to evaluate how organisms respond to conservation actions. For example, individuals translocated during reinforcement programmes may not adapt to their novel host environment and may exhibit elevated chronic levels of stress hormones and/or decreasing body condition. Conversely, successful conservation actions should be associated with a lack of detrimental physiological perturbation. However, physiological references fluctuate over time and are influenced by various factors (e.g. sex, age, reproductive status). It is therefore necessary to determine the range of natural variations of the selected physiological metrics to establish useful baselines. This study focuses on endangered free-ranging Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni hermanni), where conservation actions have been preconized to prevent extinction of French mainland populations. The influence of sex and of environmental factors (site, year and season) on eight physiological parameters (e.g. body condition, corticosterone concentrations) was assessed in 82 individuals from two populations living in different habitats. Daily displacements were monitored by radio-tracking. Most parameters varied between years and seasons and exhibited contrasting sex patterns but with no or limited effect of site. By combining behavioural and physiological traits, this study provides sex-specific seasonal baselines that can be used to monitor the health status of Hermann's tortoises facing environmental threats (e.g. habitat changes) or during conservation actions (e.g. translocation). These results might also assist in selection of the appropriate season for translocation.

History

Journal

Conservation physiology

Volume

4

Issue

1

Article number

cow054

Pagination

1 - 16

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Location

Oxford, Eng.

ISSN

2051-1434

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, The Authors