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    Walker, Ryan C.J. Whitmore, Nathan Rafeliarisoa, Tsilavo H. and Hamylton, Sarah 2012. The effect of habitat degradation on the long term survival of the Critically Endangered Madagascar spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides). Biological Conservation, Vol. 152, p. 152.

    Maura, M. Vignoli, L. Bologna, M. Rugiero, L. and Luiselli, L. 2011. Population density of syntopic, differently sized lizards in three fragmented woodlands from Mediterranean Central Italy. Community Ecology, Vol. 12, Issue. 2, p. 249.

    Irwin, Mitchell T. Wright, Patricia C. Birkinshaw, Christopher Fisher, Brian L. Gardner, Charlie J. Glos, Julian Goodman, Steven M. Loiselle, Paul Rabeson, Pascal Raharison, Jean-Luc Raherilalao, Marie Jeanne Rakotondravony, Daniel Raselimanana, Achille Ratsimbazafy, Jonah Sparks, John S. Wilmé, Lucienne and Ganzhorn, Jörg U. 2010. Patterns of species change in anthropogenically disturbed forests of Madagascar. Biological Conservation, Vol. 143, Issue. 10, p. 2351.


Estimating the population of the Endangered flat-tailed tortoise Pyxis planicauda in the deciduous, dry forest of western Madagascar: a monitoring baseline

  • Richard P. Young (a1), Anselme Toto Volahy (a2), Robert Bourou (a2), Richard Lewis (a2), Joanna Durbin (a2) and John E. Fa (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2008

The Madagascar flat-tailed tortoise Pyxis planicauda is threatened with extinction through loss of its deciduous, dry forest habitat and illegal collection for the pet trade. Little is known of the population status of this species as no systematic survey across its range has previously been conducted. Surveying P. planicauda is problematic as it has cryptic colouration, is only active during the wet season, and spends periods of time hidden under leaf litter. In this study we designed a line transect survey, which incorporated an approximation of the amount of time tortoises were available for sampling, to produce an unbiased estimate of population size. We estimated density of P. planicauda in the main forest block in central Menabe, which represents the majority of its range, to be 0.40 ha-1 with a total population size of nearly 28,000 individuals (95% confidence interval 16,323-47,669). This estimate is substantially higher than previous predictions of <10,000 individuals. Nevertheless, the species faces ongoing threats from deforestation and probably from illegal collection, although the recent designation of the Menabe forest as a protected area will probably help reduce these threats. This study provides a baseline density estimate of P. planicauda and a survey protocol for monitoring future population trends.

Corresponding author
*Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Les Augrés Manor, Trinity, Jersey, JE3 5BP, UK Channel Islands. E-mail
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D.E. Swann , R.C. Averill-Murray & C.R Schwalbe . (2002) Distance sampling for Sonoran desert tortoises. Journal of Wildlife Management, 66, 969975.

A. Toto Volahy , J.D. Durbin & W.F Rakotombolona . (2002) Density and Population Estimates of the Flat Tailed Tortoise Pyxis planicauda in the Western Dry Forest of Madagascar. Unpublished Report. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Trinity, UK.

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