Degree Granting Department
Earl McCoy, Ph.D.
Radiotelemetry, Home range, Site fidelity, Radiography, Body condition index
Human-caused destruction of xeric habitats in Florida that support gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus Daudin) is occurring at a rapid rate. One conservation strategy that has been used for numerous taxa is translocation. The effects of translocation on the health, reproductive activity, and movements of translocated and resident telemetered individuals was evaluated for a population of gopher tortoises in central-Florida from 2001 to 2004. Only one of the 13 individuals released left the site during the study. The home range estimates of resident individuals were not significantly different before and after the release of the translocated individuals on the site, and all mean home ranges fit within the range of estimates reported in the literature for natural populations of gopher tortoises. Habitat use of several individual resident gopher tortoises was significantly different after the translocation events. The degree that the home ranges of the residents were overlapped by other individuals in the study was not significantly different. The spatial locations of the home ranges of resident and translocated individuals were significantly different. There was evidence of reproduction for both resident and translocated females a year after the release of the translocates. The body condition of the resident individuals was higher at the end of the study relative to the start, although this may be explained by other factors. This study illustrates some of the problems associated with studies designed to assess translocation success, namely the lack adequate baseline data for the population and the challenge of balancing the sample sizes necessary for acceptable statistical power with the mechanics of translocation. The results of this study suggest that translocation is a potentially useful conservation strategy, although there are other potential consequences of translocation that need to be considered prior to its implementation.
Scholar Commons Citation
Riedl, Susannah Christina, "The effects of gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) translocation on movements, reproductive activity, and body condition of resident and translocated individuals in Central Florida" (2006). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.