The stability of any population is a function of how many young are produced and how many survive to reproduce. Populations with low reproductive output and high mortality will decline until such time as deaths and births are at least balanced. Monitoring populations of sensitive species is particularly important to ensure that conditions do not favor decline or extinction.
Turtles, including tortoises, are characterized by life history traits that make them slow to adapt to rapid changes in mortality and habitat alteration. Long life spans (in excess of 50 years), late maturity, and widely variable nest success are traits that allowed turtles to outlive the dinosaurs, but they are poorly adapted for life in the rapidly changing modern world. Increased mortality of young and adults can seriously tip the delicate balance required for turtles to survive.
|Title||Studies of reproductive output of the desert tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave National Preserve, and comparative sites|
|Authors||J.E. Lovich, P. Medica, H. Avery, K. Meyer, G. Bowser, A. Brown|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Park Science|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|