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


Nussear, K. E.; Tracy, C. R.; Medica, P. A.; Wilson, D. S.; Marlow, R. W.; Corn, P. S. 2012. Translocation as a conservation tool for Agassiz's desert tortoises: Survivorship, reproduction, and movements. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 76: 1341-1353.

doi: 10.1002/jwmg.390

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.

Keywords: animal movements, conservation strategies, Gopherus agassizii, reproduction, reptile, site fidelity, tortoise relocation, translocation


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http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2012_nussear_k001.pdf

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Translocation as a conservation tool for Agassiz's desert tortoises: Survivorship, reproduction, and movements
Electronic Publish Date: July 22, 2013
Last Update:
July 22, 2013

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