The patterns of the occurrence and distribution of alien freshwater turtle species in an urban pond archipelago (Rome, Italy) were analysed, with the aim of exploring the role of a set of factors (type of ponds, landscape context, size area, distance from the nearest road) with a generalized linear model approach. A total of 311 ponds subdivided in three types (fountains, small basins, lakes) embedded in different landscape contexts (public parks, private parks, urban areas) at differing distances from the nearest road were sampled. Six non-native freshwater turtle species in 31 sites were recorded (9.97%). Lakes exhibited the highest occurrence rates of alien freshwater turtles, compared to small basins and fountains. Freshwater turtle species in urbanized areas were only observed in parks (both public and private). In both the public and private parks, the lakes exhibited the highest percentage of occupied sites, with fountains being the lowest. A direct and significant relationship was observed between pond size and species richness. The distance from the nearest road did not appear to affect species richness. A first interpretation of the data from this study facilitated the postulation of two a posteriori hypotheses that should be tested, as follows: (i) the causal process of turtle release is random, and the rate of extinction (and recapture) is higher in smaller ponds, thus producing the observed pattern; and (ii) the turtle release is not random, and people actively select the ponds they consider more suitable for their pet animals. In this study, it appears the lakes were perceived by those who abandon their pets as the most ecologically suitable habitats among other pond types to accommodate the different species of turtles. Knowledge of people’s attitudes in regard to releasing pet animals also might assist managers of public green spaces to develop strategies aimed to preserve local biodiversity, and to educate the public about the conservation issue represented by the alien species.
Di Santo, M.p., Vignoli, L., Carpaneto, G., Battisti, C. (2017). Occurrence patterns of alien freshwater turtles in a large urban pond ‘Archipelago’ (Rome, Italy): Suggesting hypotheses on root causes. LAKES & RESERVOIRS, 22(1), 56-64 [10.1111/lre.12164].