Special Issue "Reptile Community Ecology and Conservation"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 August 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Luca Luiselli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
President of IDECC – Institute for Development Ecology Conservation and Cooperation Via G. Tomasi di Lampedusa 33 I, 00144 Rome, Italy
Interests: community ecology; reptile biology and conservation; tropical reptile ecology; chelonian conservation; reptile population biology; reptile dietary habits and foraging ecology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Reptile communities have been central to the evolution of the theoretical framework of community ecology. There have been several seminal contributions in general theoretical community ecology, written by such eminent scientists as Eric Pianka and Robert Barbault. Currently, studies on the community ecology of reptiles have continued to be published in the international literature, also with an emphasis on the aspects of conservation biology that are often linked to community studies in a period when wildlife and the natural environment became day by day more threatened by the ongoing human-made devastation of the planet. In this Special Issue, we present review and research papers that particularly highlight the links between conservation biology and community ecology, in the hope to provide the international scientific community with an updated and comprehensive synthesis of the "state of the art" in this area.

Prof. Luca Luiselli
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Consumption Patterns of a Generalist Omnivore: Eastern Box Turtle Diets in the Long Island Pine Barrens
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080345 (registering DOI) - 28 Jul 2021
Abstract
Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina) are diet generalists and as such are predicted to have diverse diets in which familiar, low-quality foods are eaten consistently at low levels, and high-quality foods are rare but eaten whenever available. Previous work showed that [...] Read more.
Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina) are diet generalists and as such are predicted to have diverse diets in which familiar, low-quality foods are eaten consistently at low levels, and high-quality foods are rare but eaten whenever available. Previous work showed that they feed opportunistically on seasonally available plants (shoots, leaves, flowers, and fruit), invertebrates, mushrooms, and occasionally carrion. We used fecal samples to test optimal foraging predictions relevant to diet generalists and also whether the Eastern Box Turtle diets varied seasonally in a northeastern U.S. pine-oak habitat. We found that in-depth prey species consumption patterns of six different individuals were similar to those of the sampled population overall. Leaf and stem material was consumed by 100% of the turtles in all months despite being lower-quality than other prey available. Invertebrates were consumed by at least 80% of turtles in every study period; Coleopterans were found more commonly than other invertebrates. Snails were not eaten by more than 20% of the turtles in any study period, and mushroom consumption varied from 31–75% of samples in different study periods. Monthly diet overlap was measured using both Pianka’s Index of Overlap (PIO) and the Morisita–Horn Index (MH). The PIO method indicated that the prey consumption patterns were broadly similar from June–October, while the M–H method showed that only the July vs. August comparison was highly similar. The turtle diets changed only slightly between seasons, and they conform to predictions of diet generalist models usually applied to mammals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reptile Community Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
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 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 437
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reptile Community Ecology and Conservation)
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Article
Venomous Snake Abundance Within Snake Species’ Assemblages Worldwide
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12020069 - 07 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1405
Abstract
Venomous snakes are among the main sources of mortality for humans in rural regions, especially in tropical countries. In this study, a meta-analysis of quantitative community ecology studies on snake assemblages throughout the world was conducted in order to evaluate variation in the [...] Read more.
Venomous snakes are among the main sources of mortality for humans in rural regions, especially in tropical countries. In this study, a meta-analysis of quantitative community ecology studies on snake assemblages throughout the world was conducted in order to evaluate variation in the frequency of occurrence of venomous species and venomous individuals by habitat and continent. A bibliographic search was done by consulting “Google Scholar” and “ISI Web of Knowledge”. In total, 24,200 results were obtained from our bibliographic search, out of which 60 independent studies reporting raw and analyzable quantitative data from 81 distinct snake communities were retained and used for analyses. A snow-ball procedure was also used to uncover additional studies to include in the analyses. We gathered data on a total of 30,537 snake individuals, with an average of almost 30% of venomous individuals. The mean number of sympatric species was 19, whereas the mean number of sympatric venomous species was almost 5. Venomous snake species accounted for 24.4% of the total species in each community—almost the same as the overall percentage of venomous snake species known worldwide (about 24%). The frequency of occurrence of venomous individuals did not differ significantly between tropical and temperate snake communities, and the same was true for the frequency of venomous species within each community. Thus, the greater number of snakebites in tropical countries is not due to there being more venomous snake species or individuals. The total number of species and the number of venomous species observed in each community were positively correlated, and there was a significant difference among continents in terms of the mean number of species in each community. Within communities, there were inter-continental and inter-habitat differences in both the percentage of venomous species and in the percentage of venomous individuals. The Generalized Linear Model (GLM) revealed that the frequency of venomous species at a local scale depended only on the total number of species inhabiting a given site, whereas the frequency of venomous individuals within communities depended on both the total number of species and a habitat–continent interaction. Our meta-analysis could enable the appropriate authorities/agencies to take the relative abundance of venomous species/individuals within snake assemblages into consideration for a better positioning of the first aid centers in locations where snake antivenoms should be available. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reptile Community Ecology and Conservation)
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