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USGS scientists study threats to the Mojave desert tortoise

USGS WERC ecologists Todd Esque and Felicia Chen were joined in the field last month by KUNC public radio reporter Luke Runyon, where they showed the reporter how they track threatened Mojave desert tortoises. USGS scientists study the tortoises using radio transmitters that help the researchers locate the tortoise’s burrows and track their movements, generating data to inform conservation and land management in the desert. Though Mojave desert tortoises are well-adapted to life in the desert, they are threatened by development, disease, wildfire, and climate change.

"If we have hotter temperatures and less rainfall -- first of all, they're not going to get a drink as often. If we just have long droughts, we're going to start seeing populations blink out in one valley or another," Esque told the reporter.

The resulting web and radio story is now available on KUNC’s website.

Learn more about USGS work with the Mojave desert tortoise here.