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Micro-geographic variation in burrow use of Agassiz’s desert tortoises in the Sonoran Desert of California

October 9, 2020

Little has been published regarding the burrowing habits of Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in the Sonoran Desert of California. We monitored the interactions of tortoises with their burrows, and other tortoises, via radio-telemetry at two nearby sites between the Cottonwood and Orocopia Mountains, from 2015-2018. We examined how annual cycles of drought and non-drought years, behaviourally affected how tortoises use their burrows (i.e., burrow fidelity, cohabitation,
and location), including the timing of the tortoise brumation period. Burrow locations were strongly dependent on local geology and topography, with a tendency to orientate in conformance with the general aspect of the landscape. The timing of brumation was similar to records for G. agassizii throughout their range (with a few exceptions). There was no difference in the estimated number of burrows used per 30 days between the active seasons (2017 and 2018) at the Orocopia site, despite the occurrence of drought in 2018.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Micro-geographic variation in burrow use of Agassiz’s desert tortoises in the Sonoran Desert of California
DOI 10.33256/hj30.4.177188
Authors Kristy L. Cummings, Jeffrey E. Lovich, Shellie R. Puffer, Terence R. Arundel, Kathleen D. Brundige
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Herpetological Journal
Series Number
Index ID 70215180
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center