Home is where the shell is: Predicting turtle home range sizes

Alex Slavenko, Yuval Itescu, Flora Ihlow, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Home range is the area traversed by an animal in its normal activities. The size of home ranges is thought to be tightly linked to body size, through size effect on metabolic requirements. Due to the structure of Eltonian food pyramids, home range sizes of carnivores are expected to exceed those of herbivorous species. The habitat may also affect home range size, with reduced costs of locomotion or lower food abundance in, for example, aquatic habitats selecting for larger home ranges. Furthermore, home range of males in polygamous species may be large due to sexual selection for increased reproductive output. Comparative studies on home range sizes have rarely been conducted on ectotherms. Because ectotherm metabolic rates are much lower than those of endotherms, energetic considerations of metabolic requirements may be less important in determining the home range sizes of the former, and other factors such as differing habitats and sexual selection may have an increased effect. We collected literature data on turtle home range sizes. We used phylogenetic generalized least squares analyses to determine whether body mass, sex, diet, habitat and social structure affect home range size. Turtle home range size increases with body mass. However, body mass explains relatively little of the variation in home range size. Aquatic turtles have larger home ranges than semiaquatic species. Omnivorous turtles have larger home ranges than herbivores and carnivores, but diet is not a strong predictor. Sex and social structure are unrelated to home range size. We conclude that energetic constraints are not the primary factor that determines home range size in turtles, and energetic costs of locomotion in different habitats probably play a major role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-114
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 British Ecological Society.


  • Body size
  • Chelonians
  • Energetic constraints
  • Home range size
  • Macroecology
  • Phylogenetic generalized least square

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Home is where the shell is: Predicting turtle home range sizes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this