Impacts of exurban sprawl: The effects of the perceptions and practices of new residents toward the spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca)

Authors

  • Irene Pérez,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
    2. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Ecología. Universidad Miguel Hernández, 03202 Elche, Alicante, Spain
    • Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
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  • Andrés Giménez,

    1. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Ecología. Universidad Miguel Hernández, 03202 Elche, Alicante, Spain
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  • Andrés Pedreño

    1. Departamento de Sociología y Política Social, Universidad de Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain
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  • Associate Editor: Valdez

Abstract

Urbanization is one of the main drivers threatening biodiversity. Together with the direct effects of exurban sprawl (e.g., habitat loss), the behavior of new residents may have important implications for species conservation. This manuscript addresses the effects of exurban sprawl on the collection and captivity of the endangered spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) in southeastern Spain. In June 2004, we undertook 362 structured interviews with exurban residents. Our results showed that most of the 12% of new residents who keeps tortoises in captivity have collected them from the wild (51%). Reintroductions and captive breeding were also frequent practices (24% and 26%, respectively). These practices, which are expected to increase in forthcoming years, might have important implications for the conservation of the species (local extinction, disease spread, or genetic mixing). Paradoxically, new residents collect tortoises to “protect” wild individuals from natural and anthropic threats. Therefore, even though many new residents are concerned about the spur-thighed tortoise, they do not practice sound conservation measures. This study highlights the importance of incorporating human dimensions for wildlife into planning for urban sprawl. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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