Measuring Declines and Natural Variation in Turtle Populations:
Spatial Lessons from Long-Term Studies

—  P L E N A R Y   L E C T U R E  —


Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802, USA

        ABSTRACT: Turtles are among the species threatened by biodiversity losses on a global scale as a consequence of habitat destruction.  However, the responsibility for providing evidence that turtle numbers and populations are declining rests upon the scientific community.  To provide cogent and credible arguments for protection of species or habitats, turtle biologists must document that particular species or populations are on a decline trajectory that will result in extinction.  Documenting such declines is possible but will not be easy.  To be effective, turtle biologists must measure population responses to natural environmental variability through studies that document spatial and genetic characteristics of metapopulations.  Turtle ecologists should be vigilant of suspected problems and provide convincing documentation.  Overstatement of the threats to turtles and their habitats must be balanced against understatement or ignorance of potential or actual problems.  Finally, encouragement should be given for support of long-term, spatially extensive research on as many species’ populations as possible.

  Demography, Ecology, and Genetics

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