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Microhabitat selection of the big-headed turtle Platysternon megacephalum in the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park, China

Cite this dataset

Xiao, Fanrong (2024). Microhabitat selection of the big-headed turtle Platysternon megacephalum in the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park, China [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.95x69p8px

Abstract

Understanding species habitat requirements is vital for ensuring the success of targeted conservation and habitat restoration measures. The big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) is a freshwater species which is distributed across Southeast Asia. Due to the human threats posed by illegal pet trade and overharvesting for food and medicinal purposes, the species has undergone rapid decline. Furthermore, limited research has been conducted on this species, particularly regarding habitat preferences on Hainan Island, China. Therefore, this study examined the microhabitat selection of P. megacephalum using cage and sample plot methods in the Diaoluo Mountain area of the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park. Our results indicated that big-headed turtles select stream microhabitats at higher altitudes, in proximity to rocky substrates, several caves, and high diversity of food sources. Microhabitat utilization did not differ significantly between adults and juveniles. This suggests that protecting microhabitats and main food sources is important for the conservation of P. megacephalum. Our findings provide a reference for the protection of this species in Jianfeng, Yingge Ridge, and other areas in the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park.

README: Microhabitat selection of the big-headed turtle Platysternon megacephalum in the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park, China

Description of the data file:

A sample plot of 10 m length with water surface as width of the stream was established. A capture cage containing a turtle was considered to be at the center of the experimental plot, with 5-m intervals up and down the stream as the plot length. A sample plot centered around a cage with no turtles present was used as a control plot. Ten ecological factors were recorded, including vegetation coverage, water surface width (m), water depth (cm), water surface velocity (m/s), substrate type (stone/sand/mud, covering > 60% of the plot), exposed stone rate (piece/m2), number of caves, plant root system (clump), food diversity (number of species in the turtle cage), and distance from disturbance (< 50 m, 50–100 m, > 100 m). A cave was defined as a small cavity formed by two or more stones large enough to accommodate a big-headed turtle nestled on the riverbed or the gap at the bottom of a large rock. Plant roots are potential hiding places for the big-headed turtle and were recorded as the number of visible root clumps at the edge of the riverbank within the sample plot. The distance from disturbance was recorded as the distance from the cage to the nearest road in multiples of 50 m.

Funding

Hainan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 319MS047