Print version ISSN 0366-5232
GONZALEZ-ZARATE, ADRIANA; MONTENEGRO, OLGA LUCÍA and CASTANO-MORA, OLGA VICTORIA. Habitat characterization of the river turtle Podocnemis lewyana in the Prado river, downstream of Hidroprado dam, Tolima, Colombia. Caldasia [online]. 2011, vol.33, n.2, pp. 471-493. ISSN 0366-5232.
This study was aimed at assessing habitat characteristics in Prado River, in sites with permanent presence of turtles (PPT) compared to sites without PPT, to elucidate the possible grouping of P. lewyana in these particular areas. With the vegetation characterization along the Prado River, we found 63 plant species, 28 of which are part of the diet of P. lewyana. The number of plants that are part of the turtle’s diet, plant diversity, and coverage of shrubs and trees was higher at the sites with PPT than in sites without PPT. Leguminosae was the richest plant family in number of species, followed by Anacardiaceae, Moraceae, and Sapindaceae. In the characterization of water physicochemical variables, we found a greater depth of the river and lower flow velocity at sites with PPT compared with sites without PPT. The water oxygen levels were lower than expected in the area. Regarding the availability of refuge places, resting, and basking spots, there were no differences in the frequencies of ravines, rocky beaches, sandy beaches, wood and rocks available per kilometer for P. lewyana between the sites with and without PPT. In assessing food availability for P. lewyana in the river, we found that the number of plant species belonging to the turtle’s diet and the biomass contribution of these species was greater at sites with PPT than in those without PPT. Among the habitat variables analyzed, flow velocity was the most related variable with the presence of P. lewyana in the Prado River while depth of the river, riparian vegetation cover and dissolved oxygen in water were directly related with its abundance.
Keywords : Characterization; habitat; conservation; turtles; Podocnemis lewyana; rivers; Colombia.