Distribution of Hermann’s tortoise across Serbia with implications for conservation



Testudo hermanni boettgeri, ecological niche model, species distribution model, conservation, Serbia


Paper description:

  • The Hermann’s tortoise and its habitats are among conservation priorities in the European Union. Populations of western subspecies are closely monitored and basic information about eastern subspecies is just starting to emerge.
  • We used precise observation data to model the distribution of Hermann’s tortoise in Serbia and its ecological niche.
  • Both modeled and observed distributions suggest that most suitable habitats are situated in lowland areas of eastern, central and southern Serbia, under semi-open habitats ranging from pastures and shrubs to broad leaf forests.
  • Our results provide crucial information which should be considered when shaping NATURA 2000 sites in Serbia.

Abstract: Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is among the conservation priorities in the European Union. Consequently, it is included in Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive, Annex II of the Bern Convention, and Annex II of the CITES Convention. Hermann’s tortoise conservation programs compile insights on the threats affecting population viability, along with factors shaping the species’ distribution. Serbian populations of the eastern subspecies (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) seem numerous and therefore prosperous, but recent population viability analyses revealed that they are susceptible to rapid demographic changes and/or habitat destruction. This implies the need for effective population monitoring and protection, as well as mapping and conservation of suitable habitats. In this paper we summarized current knowledge about the geographic distribution of Hermann’s tortoise in Serbia and modeled its ecological niche. Our results corroborate and uphold the known species’ distribution in Serbia. Most suitable habitats are situated in the lowland areas of eastern, central and southern Serbia, under semi-open habitats, such as pastures and shrubs, broadleaf forests, and all successional stages in between. The results provided in this paper should be considered in the selection and shaping of NATURA 2000 sites in Serbia.


Received: April 6, 2019; Revised: May 1, 2019; Accepted: May 7, 2019; Published online: June 5, 2019

How to cite this article: Golubović A, Tomović Lj, Nikolić M, Nikolić S, Anđelković M, Arsovski D, Iković V, Gvozdenović S, Popović M. Distribution of Hermann’s tortoise across Serbia with implications for conservation. Arch Biol Sci. 2019;71(3):509-16.


Download data is not yet available.


Rhodin A, Stanford C, van Dijk PP, Eisemberg C, Luiselli L, Mittermeier R, Hudson R, Horne BD, Goode EV, Kuchling G, Walde A, Baard EHW, Berry KH, Bertolero A, Blanck TEG, Bour R, Buhlmann KA, Cayot LJ, Collet S, Currylow A, Das I, Diagne T, Ennen JR, Forero-Medina G, Frankel MG, Fritz U, García G, Gibbons JW, Gibbons PM, Shiping G, Guntoro J, Hofmeyr MD, Iverson JB, Kiester AR, Lau M, Lawson DP, Lovich JE, Moll EO, Páez VP, Palomo-Ramos R, Platt K, Platt SG, Pritchard PCH, Quinn HR, Rahman SC, Randrianjafizanaka ST, Schaffer J, Selman W, Shaffer HB, Sharma DSK, Haitao S, Singh S, Spencer R, Stannard K, Sutcliffe S, Thomson S, Vogt RC. Global conservation status of turtles and tortoises (order Testudines). Chelonian Conserv Biol. 2018;17(2):135-61.

Hailey A. The effects of fire and mechanical habitat destruction on survival of the tortoise Testudo hermanni in northern Greece. Biol Conserv. 2000;92:321-33.

Nikolić S, Golubović A, Bonnet X, Arsovski D, Ballouard J, Ajtić R, Sterijovski B, Iković V, Vujović A, Tomović L. Why an apparently prosperous subspecies needs strict protection: The case of Testudo hermanni boettgeri from the central Balkans. Herpetol Conserv Biol. 2018;13:673-90.

Kallimanis AS, Kunin WE, Halley JM, Sgardelis SP. Metapopulation Extinction Risk under Spatially Autocorrelated Disturbance. Conserv Biol. 2005;19:534-46.

Stubbs D, Swingland IR, Hailey A, Pulford E. The ecology of the Mediterranean tortoise Testudo hermanni in northern Greece (the effects of a catastrophe on population structure and density). Biol Conserv. 1985;31:125-52.

Livoreil B. Distribution of the Endangered Hermann’s tortoise Testudo hermanni hermanni in Var, France, and recommendations for its conservation. Oryx. 2009;43:299.

van Dijk PP, Corti C, Mellado VP, Cheylan M. Testudo hermanni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [Internet]. IUCN Red List Threat. Species. 2004 [cited 2019 Feb 4]. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2004.RLTS.T21648A9306057.en

Bertolero AM, Cheylan A, Hailey A, Livoreil, Willemsen RE. Testudo hermanni (Gmelin 1789) Hermann’s Tortoise. In: Rhodin A, Pritchard PCH, van Dijk PP, Saumure RA, Buhlmann KA, Iverson JB, Mittermeier RA., editors. Biol Freshw Turt Tortoises Compil Proj Int Union Conserv Nat Species Surviv Comm Tortoise Freshw Spec Group. Chelonian Research Monographs. Lunenburg, Massachusetts, USA: Chelonian Research Foundation; 2011. p. 59.1-59.20.

Luiselli L, Capula M, Burke RL, Rugiero L, Capizzi D. Sighting frequency decreases over two decades in three populations of Testudo hermanni from central Italy. Biodivers Conserv. 2014;23:3091-100.

Hailey A, Willemsen RE. Changes in the status of tortoise populations in Greece 1984-2001. Biodivers Conserv. 2003;12:991-1011.

Ljubisavljević K, Džukić G, Kalezić ML. The commercial export of the land tortoises (Testudo spp.) from the territory of the former Yugoslavia: a historical review and the impact of overharvesting on wild populations. North-West J Zool. 2011;7:250-60.

Đorđević S, Ljubisavljević K. Hermann’s Tortoise Testudo hermanni Gmelin 1789. In: Tomović L, Kalezic M, Džukić G, editors. Red Book Fauna Serbia II - Reptil. Belgrade: Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade and Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia; 2015. p. 151-7.

Badiane A, Matos C, Santos X. Uncovering environmental, land-use and fire effects on the distribution of a low-dispersal species, the Hermann’s tortoise Testudo hermanni. Amphib-Reptil. 2017;38:67-77.

Tomović L, Timotijević M, Ajtić R, Krizmanić I, Labus N. Contribution to the herpetofauna of Serbia - Distribution of reptiles in Kosovo and Metohija province. Univ Thought - Publ Nat Sci. 2018;8:1-6.

Živanović N, Golubović A, Popović M. Biologer.org [Internet]. Biol. Simple Free Softw. Des. Collect. Data Biol. Divers. 2018 [cited 2019 Jan 6]. Available: https://biologer.org

Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Dudík M, Schapire RE, Blair ME. Opening the black box: an open-source release of Maxent. Ecography. 2017;40:887-93.

Phillips SJ, Dudík M. 2008. Modeling of species distributions with Maxent: new extensions and a comprehensive evaluation. Ecography. 2008;31:161-75.

Fick SE, Hijmans RJ. WorldClim 2: new 1-km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas: NEW CLIMATE SURFACES FOR GLOBAL LAND AREAS. Int J Climatol. 2017;37:4302-15.

EEA. European Digital Elevation Model (EU-DEM), version 1.1 [Internet]. Eur Environ Agency. 2016 [cited 2019 Jan 3]. Available: https://land.copernicus.eu/imagery-in-situ/eu-dem/eu-dem-v1.1/view

EEA. Corine Land Cover (CLC) 2018, Version 20b2 [Internet]. Eur. Environ. Agency. 2018 [cited 2019 Jan 3]. Available: https://land.copernicus.eu/pan-european/corine-land-cover/clc2018

Sexton JO, Song X-P, Feng M, Noojipady P, Anand A, Huang C, Kim D-H, Collins KM, Channan S, DiMiceli C, Townshend JR. Global, 30-m resolution continuous fields of tree cover: Landsat-based rescaling of MODIS vegetation continuous fields with lidar-based estimates of error. Int J Digit Earth. 2013;6:427-48.

Lobo JM, Jiménez-Valverde A, Real R. AUC: a misleading measure of the performance of predictive distribution models. Glob Ecol Biogeogr. 2008;17:145-51.

Ljubisavljević K, Džukić G, Vukov TD, Kalezić ML. Distribution patterns of Hermann’s Tortoise Testudo hermanni GMELIN, 1789, in the region of former Yugoslavia. Herpetozoa. 2014;26:125-38.

Bonney R, Cooper CB, Dickinson J, Kelling S, Phillips T, Rosenberg KV, Shirk J. Citizen science: A developing tool for expanding science knowledge and scientific literacy. BioScience. 2009;59:977-84.

Chandler M, See L, Copas K, Bonde AMZ, López BC, Danielsen F, Legind JK, Masinde S, Miller-Rushing AJ, Newman G, Rosemartin A, Turak E. Contribution of citizen science towards international biodiversity monitoring. Biol Conserv. 2017;213:280-94.

Rozylowicz L, Popescu VD. Habitat selection and movement ecology of eastern Hermann’s tortoises in a rural Romanian landscape. Eur J Wildl Res. 2013;59:47-55.

Popović M, Šašić M, Medenica I, Šeat J, Đurđević A, Crnobrnja-Isailović J. Living on the edge: population ecology of Phengaris teleius in Serbia. J Insect Conserv. 2017;21:401-9.

Dragović S, Maksimović L, Radojević V, Cicmil M, Pantelić S. Historical development of soil water regime management using drainage and irrigation in Vojvodina. Vodoprivreda. 2005;287-98.

Lazić L, Pavić D, Stojanović V, Tomić P, Romelić J, Pivac T, Košić K, Bisermenji S, Kocošev S, Đarmati Z, Puzović S, Đureković-Tešić O, Panjković B, Habijan-Mikeš V, Sabadoš K, Delić J, Kovačević B, Stojšić V, Korać J. Zaštićena prirodna dobra i ekoturizam Vojvodine. Lazić L, editor. Novi Sad: Univerzitet u Novom Sadu, Prirodno-matematički fakultet, Departman za geografiju, turizam i hotelijerstvo; 2008.

Stojadinović D, Milošević Đ, Sretić K, Cvetković M, Jovanović T, Jovanović B, Crnobrnja-Isailović J. Activity patterns and habitat preference of eastern Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) in Serbia. Turk J Zool. 2017;41(6):1036-44.

Couturier T, Besnard A, Bertolero A, Bosc V, Astruc G, Cheylan M. Factors determining the abundance and occurrence of Hermann’s tortoise Testudo hermanni in France and Spain: Fire regime and landscape changes as the main drivers. Biol Conserv. 2014;170:177-87.




How to Cite

Golubović A, Tomović L, Nikolić M, Nikolić S, Anđelković M, Arsovski D, Iković V, Gvozdenović S, Popović M. Distribution of Hermann’s tortoise across Serbia with implications for conservation. Arch Biol Sci [Internet]. 2019Oct.23 [cited 2021Sep.25];71(3):509-16. Available from: http://www.serbiosoc.org.rs/arch/index.php/abs/article/view/4163