Study

Translocation as a conservation tool: site fidelity and movement of repatriated gopher tortoises (Gopherus plyphemus)

  • Published source details Tuberville T.D., Clark E.E., Buhlmann K.A., Gibbons J.W., , , & (2005) Translocation as a conservation tool: site fidelity and movement of repatriated gopher tortoises (Gopherus plyphemus). Animal Conservation, 8, 349-358.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Translocate reptiles away from threats: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation

Use holding pens or enclosures at release site prior to release of wild reptiles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Translocate reptiles away from threats: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

    A study in 2001–2003 in a mixed forest site in South Carolina, USA (Tuberville et al. 2005) found that most gopher tortoises Gopherus polyphemus translocated away from a development site survived at least one year after release. Thirty-four of 38 (86%) adult or sub-adult tortoises survived at least one year and the remaining four were lost within 15 days of release. More tortoises stayed at the released site when a release pen was used (9 months penning: 8 of 13, 62% stayed; 12 months penning: 11 of 12, 92% stayed) compared to when no pen was used (3 of 13, 23% stayed). In 2001, tortoises were collected from an industrial development site. Groups of 12–13 adults and sub-adults were assigned either to a soft release penning treatment (9 months or 12 months) or hard release (no penning). All release areas contained starter burrows. All turtles were released in 2002 and relocated in October–November 2002 and March–October 2003. Dispersers were retrieved and re-released at the release site.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, William Morgan)

  2. Use holding pens or enclosures at release site prior to release of wild reptiles

    A controlled study in 2001–2003 in a mixed forest site in South Carolina, USA (Tuberville et al. 2005) found that releasing translocated gopher tortoises Gopherus polyphemus into a holding pen prior to release resulted in less dispersal away from the release site and smaller activity areas compared to when no holding pen was used.  More tortoises stayed at the released site when a release pen was used (9 months penning: 8 of 13, 62% stayed; 12 months penning: 11 of 12, 92% stayed) compared to when no pen was used (3 of 13, 23% stayed). In the year of release, tortoises held in pens for 12 months had smaller activity areas (2 ha) than those held for nine months (37 ha) or not held at all (94 ha), whereas in the year after release, activity areas were similar for all groups (5–40 ha). In 2001, tortoises were collected from an industrial development site. Groups of 12–13 adults and sub-adults were assigned either to a ‘soft release’ penning treatment (9 months or 12 months) or ‘hard release’ (no penning). All release areas contained 24 starter burrows. All turtles were released in 2002 and relocated in October–November 2002 and March–October 2003. Dispersers were retrieved and re-released at the release site.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, William Morgan)

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