Ecological and Geographical Feeding Peculiarities of the Central Asian Tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii Gray, 1844) in Desert Landscapes

Dmitry A. Bondarenko, Evgeniy A. Peregontsev, Vladimir V. Neronov

Abstract


In April 2002 – 2005, the feeding patterns of Agrionemys horsfieldii were studied in four different landscapes in Uzbekistan. At the four sites, with the combined area no less than 5 ha, 43 plant species from 17 families were recorded as forming the tortoise diet. The proportion of plant species and gill mushrooms consumed by the tortoise at these sites varied from 42 to 59% with highest feeding preferences was given to species from families Brassicaceae, Papaveraceae, Fabaceae, Poaceae. Some tortoises preferred species (Anisantha tectorum, Hypecoum parviflorum, Leptaleum filifolium) and these dominated in food in several communities while animals and other non-vegetable objects were rarely consumed (~2%). Spearman’s rank correlation between the level of availability of a plant species in landscapes and the proportion of its consumption by the tortoise was near to 0 in many cases and we are able to prove that the tortoise should be seen as a selective consumer (PSI = 0.22) rather than as a generalist. A number of species dominating in plant communities were not, or rarely, eaten and among these are plants containing alkaloids and ethers, as well as species with harsh fibers and thorny spikes. In each community there were three or five species constituting the base of the diet (63 – 81%) that sustained the population. The base part of the diet constituted the species which had both high availability in the community and a high index of electivity (Jacob’s index > 0.6). The tortoise’s habitat in arid and waterless desert landscapes requires high rates of water consumption which comes from its food: for this reason, tortoises prefer to eat species with high moisture content, even including some poisonous ones. However, it is quite possible that the consumption of poisonous plants also achieves antihelminthic prophylactics.

Keywords


Central Asian tortoise; Agrionemys horsfieldii; food resources; feeding selectivity

Full Text:

PDF

References


Anderson S. C. and Leviton A. E. (1969), «Amphibians and Reptiles collected by the street expedition to Afghanistan, 1965», Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. Ser. 4, 37(2), 25 – 56.

Barboza P. S. (1995), «Nutrient balances and maintenance requirements for nitrogen and energy in desert tortoises (Xerobates agassizii) consuming forages», Comp. Biochem. Physiol., 112A, 537 – 545.

Bondarenko D. A., Bozhansky A. T., and Peregontsev E. A. (2001), «Agrionemys horsfieldii: current state in Uzbekistan», in: The Problems of Herpetology, Pushchino, Moscow, pp. 38 – 41 [in Russian].

Bondarenko D. A. and Peregontsev E. A. (2003), «The state of populations Agrionemys horsfieldii in Uzbekistan», in: Abstrs. of the 12th Ord. General Meeting Sosietas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH), 12 – 16 August, St. Petersburg, p. 41.

Bondarenko D. A. and Peregontsev E. A. (2006), «Perspectives of study and protection of steppe tortoise in Uzbekistan», in: Chelonii. Vol. 4. Second Congr. Int. sur la Conservation des Cheloniens, pp. 278 – 284.

Chernov S. A. (1959), «The reptiles», Trudy Inst. Zool. Parazitol. AN TadSSR. Fauna TadSSR, 98, 3 – 202 [in Russian].

El Mouden E. H., Slimani T., Ben Kaddour K., Lagarde F., Ouhammou A., and Bonnet X. (2006), «Testudo graeca graeca feeding ecology in an arid and overgrazed zone in Morocco», J. Arid Env., 64, 422 – 435.

Feinsiger P., Spears E. E., and Poole R. W. (1981), «A simple measure of niche breadth», Ecology, 62, 27 – 32.

Gaevskaya L. S., Shamsutdinov Z. Sh., and Shtefan M. K. (1958), The Plants of Astrakhan Pastures of Central Asia, Samarkand [in Russian].

Hunter R. F. (1962), «Hill sheep and their pasture: a study of sheep grazing in south East Scotland», J. Ecol., 50, 651 – 680.

Jacobs J. (1974), «Quantitative measurement of food selection: A modification of the forage ratio and Ivlev’s electivity index», Oecologia, 14(4), 413 – 417.

Jennings W. B. (1993), Foraging Ecology of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizzi) in the Western Mojave Desert, M.S. Thesis, Univ. of Texas at Arlington, TX.

Lagarde F., Bonnet X., Corbin J., Henen B., Nagy C., Mardanov B., and Naulleau Guy (2003), «Foraging behaviour and diet of an ectothermic herbivore: Testudo horsfieldii», Ecography, 26, 236 – 242.

Longepierre S. and Grenot C. (1999), «Some effects of intestinal nematodes on the plant foraging behaviour of Testudo hermanni hermanni in the south of France», in: Miaud C. and Guyetant G. (eds.), Current Studies in Herpetology, Le Bourget du Lac (SEH), pp. 277 – 284.

Mambetzhumaev A. M. (1972), «On the food of steppe tortoises (Testudo horsfieldii Gray) at the lower reaches of the Amudarya and neighboring Kyzyl-Kum», Nauch. Dokl. Vyssh. Shkoly Biol. Nauki, 5, 23 – 28 [in Russian].

Meklenburtsev R. N. (1958), Materials on Land Vertebrates of the Basin of Kashka-Darya River, Izd. SAGU, Tashkent [in Russian].

Meylan A. B. (1988), «Spongivory in hawksbill turtle: a diet of glass», Science, VOL.???, 239 – 393.

Paraskiv K. P. (1956), Reptiles of Kazakhstan, Izd. AN KazSSR, Alma-Ata [in Russian].

Pesenko Yu. A. (1982), The Principles and Methods of Quantitative Analysis in Faunistic Research, Nauka, Moscow [in Russian].

Polyakov V. A. (1946), «On the biology of steppe tortoise Testudo horsfieldii Gray», in: Collection of Works of Bukhara Pedag. Inst. Chemistry and Biology, Izd. BGPI, Samarkand – Bukhara, pp. 32 – 42 [in Russian].

Rustamov A. K. (1956), «On the fauna of amphibians and reptiles of South-Eastern Turkmenia», Trudy TSKhI, 8, 293 – 306 [in Russian].

Said-Aliev S. A. (1979), Amphibians and Reptiles of Tajikistan, Donish, Dushanbe [in Russian].

Satorhelyi T. and Sreter T. (1993), «Studies on internal parasites of tortoises», Parasitol. Hung., 26, 51 – 55.

Shammakov S. (1981), Reptiles of the Plain Turkmentistan, Ylym, Ashgabad [in Russian].

Shi Hai-tao (1998), «A review on the ecology and conservation status of Testudo horsfieldii», Sichuan J. Zool., 2, 65 – 69.

Voronov A. G. (1973), Geobotany, Vysshaya shkola, Moscow [in Russian].

Zaitsev G. N. (1984), Mathematical Statistics in the Experimental Botany, Nauka, Moscow [in Russian].

Zakhydov T. Z. (1938), «Biology of reptiles of South Kyzylkums and Nura-Tau range», Trudy SAGU. Ser. VIIIa. Zool., 54, 1 – 52 [in Russian].

Zakhydov T. Z. (1971), Biocenoses of the Kizilkum Desert, FAN, Tashkent [in Russian].




DOI: https://doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2011-18-3-175-184

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.