Does translocation influence physiological stress in the desert tortoise?

  • Published source details Drake K.K., Nussear K.E., Esque T.C., Barber A.M., Vittum K.M., Medica P.A., Tracy C.R. & Hunter K.W. (2012) Does translocation influence physiological stress in the desert tortoise?. Animal Conservation, 15, 560-570.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Translocate adult or juvenile reptiles: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Translocate adult or juvenile reptiles: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

    A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 2007–2009 in four sites of desert scrub in California, USA (Drake et al. 2012) found that translocated desert tortoises Gopherus agassizii did not have elevated levels of stress hormone compared to wild tortoises. There were no differences in stress hormone (corticosterone) levels between translocated (males: 4–12 ng/mL; females: 3–12 ng/mL) and resident tortoises within release sites (males: 3–12 ng/mL, females: 2–10 ng/mL) or residents outside release sites (males: 3–10 ng/mL; females: 3–11 ng/mL), but overall stress levels did vary between years (2007: 4ng/mL; 2008: 9 ng/mL; 2009: 6 ng/mL). In March 2008, translocated tortoises (45 tortoises: 18 females, 27 males) were released into four areas (1.6 km2 each) between 9–30 km from the point of capture. A further 179 tortoises (72 females, 107 males) resident in the translocated area were monitored that had home ranges within or outside of the release sites (numbers of each not provided). Levels of stress hormone were measured by taking monthly blood samples (1,793 blood samples in total) in April–October, 2007–2009 from translocated tortoises (19–43 individuals/year) and residents from within (34–43 individuals/year) and outside the release areas (19–48 individuals/year).

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust