Status of the desert tortoise in Red Rock Canyon State Park

California Fish and Game
By: , and 



We surveyed for desert tortoises, Gopherus agassizii, in the western part of Red Rock Canyon State Park and watershed in eastern Kern County, California, between 2002 and 2004. We used two techniques: a single demographic plot (~4 km2 ) and 37 landscape plots (1-ha each). We estimated population densities of tortoises to be between 2.7 and 3.57/km2 and the population in the Park to be 108 tortoises. We estimated the death rate at 67% for subadults and adults during the last 4 yrs. Mortality was high for several reasons: gunshot deaths, avian predation, mammalian predation, and probably disease. Historic and recent anthropogenic impacts from State Highway 14, secondary roads, trash, cross-country vehicle tracks, and livestock have contributed to elevated death rates and degradation of habitat. We propose conservation actions to reduce mortality.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Status of the desert tortoise in Red Rock Canyon State Park
Series title California Fish and Game
Volume 94
Issue 2
Year Published 2008
Language English
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 21 p.
First page 98
Last page 118
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