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Article

Spatial Niche Expansion at Multiple Habitat Scales of a Tropical Freshwater Turtle in the Absence of a Potential Competitor

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Ecolobby, via Edoardo Jenner 70, 00151 Rome, Italy
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Department of Fisheries, Lagos State University, Ojo 10201, Nigeria
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Institute for Development, Ecology, Conservation & Cooperation, via G. Tomasi di Lampedusa 33, 00144 Rome, Italy
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Department of Environmental Engineering, University of Calabria, 87036 Arcavacata di Rende, Italy
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Department of Animal and Environmental Biology, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt PMB 5080, Nigeria
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Department of Zoology, University of Lomé, Lomé 80428, Togo
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Laboratoire de Biotechnologie, Agriculture et Valorisation des Ressources Biologigiques, Université Félix Houphouët Boigny d’Abidjan-Cocody, Abidjan 22 BP 582, Cote D'Ivoire
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Department of Natural Sciences, School of Science and the Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 5GD, UK
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Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), CIFOR Headquarters, Bogor 16115, Indonesia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luc Legal
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020055
Received: 27 December 2020 / Revised: 28 January 2021 / Accepted: 29 January 2021 / Published: 1 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reptile Community Ecology and Conservation)
Resource partitioning, the division of limited resources by species to help avoid competition, has been observed in freshwater turtle assemblages in several natural systems but has rarely been studied in tropical African ecosystems. Here, we investigate habitat preferences of two congeneric species in the family Pelomedusidae, Pelusios castaneus and P. cupulatta, in riverine/wetland habitats in the southern Ivory Coast (West Africa). Pelusios castaneus is a widespread species across West-central African savannahs and open forests, whereas P. cupulatta is endemic to the Upper Guinean forest region in West Africa. The two species have a similar diet composition (mainly carnivorous) but diverge considerably in body size, P. cupulatta being much larger. We use hand-fishing-nets and fishing funnel traps to record turtles in 18 distinct sites and analyze habitat preferences by species at two spatial scales. At a macro-habitat scale, P. castaneus is captured mainly in marshlands, whereas P. cupulatta is found in both rivers and wetlands. The two species differ significantly in their use of: (i) banks (P. castaneus being found primarily in spots with grassy banks, whereas P. cupulatta is found in spots with forested banks), and (ii) aquatic vegetation (P. cupulatta prefers spots with more abundant aquatic vegetation than P. castaneus), but both species select sites with no or moderate current. Additionally, in sites where P. cupulatta is not found, P. castaneus expands its spatial niche at multiple habitat scales, notably invading waterbodies with forested banks. Our results suggest that these two Pelomedusid turtle species potentially compete in the freshwater habitats in the southern Ivory Coast. View Full-Text
Keywords: freshwater chelonians; Pelusios; habitat selection; niche partitioning; Ivory Coast; West Africa freshwater chelonians; Pelusios; habitat selection; niche partitioning; Ivory Coast; West Africa
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MDPI and ACS Style

Petrozzi, F.; Ajong, S.N.; Pacini, N.; Dendi, D.; Bi, S.G.; Fa, J.E.; Luiselli, L. Spatial Niche Expansion at Multiple Habitat Scales of a Tropical Freshwater Turtle in the Absence of a Potential Competitor. Diversity 2021, 13, 55. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020055

AMA Style

Petrozzi F, Ajong SN, Pacini N, Dendi D, Bi SG, Fa JE, Luiselli L. Spatial Niche Expansion at Multiple Habitat Scales of a Tropical Freshwater Turtle in the Absence of a Potential Competitor. Diversity. 2021; 13(2):55. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020055

Chicago/Turabian Style

Petrozzi, Fabio, Stephanie N. Ajong, Nic Pacini, Daniele Dendi, Sery G. Bi, Julia E. Fa, and Luca Luiselli. 2021. "Spatial Niche Expansion at Multiple Habitat Scales of a Tropical Freshwater Turtle in the Absence of a Potential Competitor" Diversity 13, no. 2: 55. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020055

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