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Island rewilding with giant tortoises in an era of climate change


Falcón, Wilfredo; Hansen, Dennis M (2018). Island rewilding with giant tortoises in an era of climate change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 373(1761):20170442.

Abstract

Replacing recently extinct endemic giant tortoises with extant, functional analogues provide the perhaps best examples of island rewilding to date. Yet, an efficient future application of this conservation action is challenging in an era of climate change. We here present and discuss a conceptual framework that can serve as a roadmap for the study and application of tortoise rewilding in an uncertain future. We focus on three main ecological functions mediated by giant tortoises, namely herbivory, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling, and discuss how climate change is likely to impact these. We then propose and discuss mitigation strategies such as artificial constructed shade sites and water holes that can help drive and maintain the ecosystem functions provided by the tortoises on a landscape scale. The application of the framework and the mitigation strategies are illustrated with examples from both wild and rewilded populations of the Aldabra giant tortoise, Aldabrachelys gigantea, in the Western Indian Ocean.

Abstract

Replacing recently extinct endemic giant tortoises with extant, functional analogues provide the perhaps best examples of island rewilding to date. Yet, an efficient future application of this conservation action is challenging in an era of climate change. We here present and discuss a conceptual framework that can serve as a roadmap for the study and application of tortoise rewilding in an uncertain future. We focus on three main ecological functions mediated by giant tortoises, namely herbivory, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling, and discuss how climate change is likely to impact these. We then propose and discuss mitigation strategies such as artificial constructed shade sites and water holes that can help drive and maintain the ecosystem functions provided by the tortoises on a landscape scale. The application of the framework and the mitigation strategies are illustrated with examples from both wild and rewilded populations of the Aldabra giant tortoise, Aldabrachelys gigantea, in the Western Indian Ocean.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:5 December 2018
Deposited On:12 Feb 2019 13:51
Last Modified:17 Feb 2019 06:54
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8436
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2017.0442

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