Impact of Fires on Spatial Distribution Patterns of the Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni) in a Heavily Affected Area in Bulgaria

1 Sofia University”St. Kliment Ohridski”, Department of Anthropology and Zoology, Faculty of Biology, BG – 1164Sofia, Bulgaria
2 BAS, National Museum of Natural History, BG – 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
3 Regional Natural History Museum, BG – 4000 Plovdiv, Bulgaria


SLAVCHEV, M., N. TZANKOV and G. POPGEORGIEV, 2014. Impact of fi res on spatial distribution patterns of the Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) in a heavily affected area in Bulgaria. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., Supplement 1: 135–138


Fires are among the main threats for tortoises all over the world. Recently many territories over the country were burned. In April and August 2011 fi res broke out in Pastrina Natura 2000 zone. The survey was carried for three years from 2011 to 2013. Habitats where specimens were encountered were reclassifi ed to four classes of suitability – unsuitable, least suitable, suitable and optimal. The abundance (individuals per hectare) of tortoises was calculated for every each habitat. The territory affected by fires covered 69% of total study area. In both affected and control polygons the habitats distribution was displayed in a similar pattern. More specimens were found in affected polygon (60 individuals) versus non-affected (25 ind.). The species was found in only seven out of 19 habitat types. The fi re affected 0.08% least suitable, 0.14% suitable but 62.19% optimal habitats in the total area. The overall abundance values are extremely low (up to 0.1ind./ha) and in all habitats this species is critically endangered. Species is very sensitive towards large-scale fi res. Deciduous and especially oak forests are relatively resistant to fi re and serve as refuges.

Key words: Burned area, NATURA 2000, tortoises, habitats


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