Translocation as a conservation tool for Agassiz's desert tortoises: survivorship, reproduction, and movements

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



We translocated 120 Agassiz's desert tortoises to 5 sites in Nevada and Utah to evaluate the effects of translocation on tortoise survivorship, reproduction, and habitat use. Translocation sites included several elevations, and extended to sites with vegetation assemblages not typically associated with desert tortoises in order to explore the possibility of moving animals to upper elevation areas. We measured survivorship, reproduction, and movements of translocated and resident animals at each site. Survivorship was not significantly different between translocated and resident animals within and among sites, and survivorship was greater overall during non-drought years. The number of eggs produced by tortoises was similar for translocated and resident females, but differed among sites. Animals translocated to atypical habitat generally moved until they reached vegetation communities more typical of desert tortoise habitat. Even within typical tortoise habitat, tortoises tended to move greater distances in the first year after translocation than did residents, but their movements in the second or third year after translocation were indistinguishable from those of resident tortoises. Our data show that tortoises translocated into typical Mojave desert scrub habitats perform well; however, the large first-year movements of translocated tortoises have important management implications. Projects that employ translocations must consider how much area will be needed to contain translocated tortoises and whether roads need fencing to prevent the loss of animals.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Translocation as a conservation tool for Agassiz's desert tortoises: survivorship, reproduction, and movements
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.390
Volume 76
Issue 7
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Wildlife Management
First page 1341
Last page 1353