Recent trends of desert tortoise populations in the Mojave Desert



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The desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Cooper), was listed as threatened in the Mojave Desert in 1990. Important factors for the listing were severe recent mortality in tortoise populations and a general decline throughout this century. Recent trends in tortoise populations were examined by plotting total captures of adult and juvenile tortoises from 2.6-km2 study plots, rather than by mark-and-recapture population estimates. Changes in relative abundance of tortoises were greatest among large tortoises in the western Mojave Desert, which may reflect high levels of human disturbance, and among small tortoises, which may reflect either lower ability of searches to detect small tortoises or greater mortality of tortoises during drought conditions in 1986-90, or both factors. Further collection of data on population trends is needed, particularly in years with higher-than-average precipitation. Retention of the threatened status of the tortoise is a conservative strategy for the conservation of natural resources but should be reassessed when additional data are available.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Recent trends of desert tortoise populations in the Mojave Desert
Series number Fish and Wildlife Research 13
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Title Biology of North American tortoises
First page 85
Last page 93
Country United States
State California, Nevada
Other Geospatial Mojave Desert
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