Demilitarized zones may aid in the protection of endangered wildlife. We compared relative abundance of the endangered Chinese Pond Turtle (Mauremys reevesii) among water bodies on the Kinmen Islands, a recently demilitarized zone between Taiwan and China. Vegetation and wildlife on the two islands, located 2 km from the Chinese coastline, were degraded by bombardment and military occupation between 1958 and early 2000s. However, natural habitats gradually recovered after military forces withdrew. More than 100 ponds, mostly produced during the occupation to provide freshwater for the soldiers, are now abandoned and provide habitat for aquatic turtles. We sampled 41 ponds and found that presence of M. reevesii was tightly associated with vegetation coverage around the pond, whereas its relative abundance was associated with aquatic vegetation and distance from roads. Comprehensive protection and management of this species should consider both vegetation coverage and road effects in certain vulnerable areas where establishment of a natural reserve might be considered.
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