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Gopherus agassizii

July 1, 2021

A provisional Red List Assessment of the widespread Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (sensu lato), was performed at a Desert Tortoise Council workshop in 2010 and updated by the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) in 2011, at which time the Mojave Desert subpopulation, now considered G. agassizii (sensu stricto) following taxonomic analysis and splitting into three separate species (G. agassizii, G. morafkai, and G. evgoodei), was assessed as Critically Endangered A2bce+A4bce based on population reduction (decreasing density), habit loss of over 80% over three generations (90 years), including past reductions and predicted future declines, as well as the effects of disease (upper respiratory tract disease / mycoplasmosis). Gopherus agassizii (sensu stricto) comprises tortoises in the most well-studied 30% of the larger range; this portion of the original range has seen the most human impacts and is where the largest past population losses had been documented. A recent rigorous range-wide population reassessment of G. agassizii (sensu stricto) has demonstrated continued adult population and density declines of about 90% over three generations (two in the past and one ongoing) in four of the five G. agassizii recovery units and inadequate recruitment with decreasing percentages of juveniles in all five recovery units. As such, we reaffirm the prior assessment of the taxonomically restricted Mojave Desert Tortoise, G. agassizii, as Critically Endangered, and add criterion “a” for direct population observations: CR A2abce+A4abce. The previously defined widespread species G. agassizii (sensu lato) was last assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List in 1996; a separate assessment currently in progress by the TFTSG for the Sonoran Desert Tortoise, G. morafkai (previously considered part of G. agassizii) has provisionally assessed that species as Vulnerable.

Publication Year 2021
Title Gopherus agassizii
DOI 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-2.RLTS.T97246272A3150871.en
Authors Kristin H. Berry, L. J. Allison, A. M. McLuckie, M. Vaughn, R. W. Murphy
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021
Index ID 70226458
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center