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The Gopher Tortoise

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					     THE GOPHER TORTOISE:
              A SPECIES IN DECLINE
           A presentation by the Gopher Tortoise Council




“working to conserve the gopher tortoise and the fascinating world in which it lives”

                      This program was partially funded with grants from
                      the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and
                      the League of Environmental Educators in Florida
The Gopher Tortoise
(Gopherus polyphemus)
Geographic Range of the
   Gopher Tortoise
Gopher Tortoise Habitat
Longleaf Pine Sandhill
Scrub
Pine Flatwoods
Coastal Dunes
Disturbed Sites
       The Ecological Role of Fire
                                Promotes diversity

                                Cycles nutrients

                                Alleviates risk of wildfire


     Regeneration after fire

                Seeds sprout

Keeps plants low for tortoise
              to easily reach
Prescribed Fire
    Adaptations for Burrowing


                         Hind foot




Forefoot
The Gopher Tortoise Burrow
Burrow Associates
Gopher Frog
(Rana capito)
Eastern Indigo Snake
(Drymarchon corais couperi)
Florida Mouse
(Podomys floridana)
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
       (Crotalus adamanteus)
               Life History of the
                Gopher Tortoise
   Average length: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm)

   Females slightly larger than males

   Slow growing

   Can live more than 60 years
Nesting
Nest Predation
Hatchling Gopher Tortoises




 Hatchlings are 1-2 inches long (25-30 mm)

   Use adult burrows or excavate their own
       or hide under plants

   Soft shell makes them
    vulnerable to predators
                  Food Plants



Stinging nettle                Prickly pear cactus




                   Wiregrass
  Why Gopher Tortoise
Populations are in Decline:
 Problems and a Few Solutions
           Habitat Loss
Development          Forestry Practices




  Mining               Agriculture
    Gopher Tortoises and Roads

   Direct effects:
• habitat loss
• mortality


   Indirect effects:
• habitat fragmentation
• artificial habitat
Domestic Dogs
Invasive Species
       Upper Respiratory
      Tract Disease (URTD)
 Symptoms
  • Clear or white nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
Remember, sometimes you can’t tell!
The Future
            What You Can Do
   Plant a native plant in your yard (many are
    food plants of gopher tortoises)
   Don’t put your hand or anything else into a
    burrow
   Be a watch dog for tortoises
   Remember tortoises are wild animals, not pets
   Tell your friends and family about tortoises
    and why they are important

				
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posted:11/30/2011
language:English
pages:32