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Return to the wild: Translocation as a tool in conservation of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

Biological Conservation

By:
, , , ,
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.11.022

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Abstract

Translocation could be used as a tool in conservation of the threatened Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) by moving individuals from harm's way and into areas where they could contribute to conservation of the species. Numerous factors may affect the success of translocations, including the conditions experienced by tortoises in holding facilities while awaiting translocation. The tortoises available for our translocation study had been provided supplemental water during their years spent in a captive holding facility, potentially inducing carelessness in water conservation. In addition to generally investigating the efficacy of translocation, we compared the effects of continuing with the effects of ceasing the holding facility's water supplementation regimen. After exposure to one of the two water regimens, all tortoises were given the opportunity to hydrate immediately prior to release. We examined behavior, body mass, carapace length, movement, and mortality of tortoises for two activity seasons following release to the wild. Water supplementation was correlated with high rates of carapace growth and distant movements by males after release. Lengthy movements following translocation may be problematic for conservation planning, but this should be evaluated in light of the goals and circumstances of each translocation project. Although the mortality rate was 21.4% in 1997, data suggest that drought conditions at the site rather than the translocation itself negatively affected the tortoises. None of the tortoises died during their second season at the site. Our results indicate that translocation should be considered a useful tool in conservation of the Desert Tortoise. ?? 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Return to the wild: Translocation as a tool in conservation of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
Series title:
Biological Conservation
DOI:
10.1016/j.biocon.2006.11.022
Volume
136
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Biological Conservation
First page:
232
Last page:
245
Number of Pages:
14