Symposium Announcements


The Latest Updates on the Symposium

We are just weeks away from the 43rd Annual Symposium, to be held at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV from February 23 through 25. Festivities will begin on the night of the February 22nd (Thursday) with a mixer hosted by Southern Nevada Environmental, Inc. The Program will being promptly on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. and will run through Sunday. We plan to finish no later than mid-afternoon on Sunday.

We have put together an exciting and substantive program with many new faces and topics, as well as several returning scientists and government people. Sessions include presentations on translocation, head-starting and augmentation of populations, health and disease, genetics, and several other subjects. Managers and wildlife biologists from government will present recent and future recovery efforts undertaken by their agencies on behalf of the desert tortoise. We are holding the announcement of our Keynote Speaker, winner of the Research Award, in abeyance for now. You will hear more about this very special surprise in our next announcement.

One highlight will be the Saturday morning session on Special and Sensitive Species Occurring in Desert Tortoise Habitats. The Council is very pleased to present six scientific experts who will describe relevant research on birds, reptiles, and mammals. Jon Sauer, a nationally recognized expert in birds from the USGS, Patuxent, Maryland, tracks long-term status and trends in U.S. populations. He will discuss trends in songbird populations in the Southwest. Tom Albright from the University of Nevada at Reno will describe his research on effects of climate warming on selected species of birds in the Southwest. Courtney Conway from the University of Idaho has conducted research throughout the West on burrowing owls; he will discuss his findings. Andrew Jones of the Arizona Game and Fish has recently published a paper on effects of off-highway vehicle road networks on kit fox and will tell us of his findings. Phil Leitner, the senior expert on the rare, threatened, and endemic Mohave ground squirrels, will share a lifetime of research on this western Mojave species. And Dale Denardo of Arizona State University and a well-known gila monster expert, will return to describe his recent work on gila monsters.

Registration is now OPEN for the 2018 Annual Symposium. Click Register Now! to jump to the DTC's Wild Apricot registration portal and complete the registration form. Pay your fee online through our secure server provided by PayPal using your PayPal account or your credit card.

If you are unable to complete your registration online, please print out a PDF registration form, complete the form, and send the form and a check for your fees to our postal mailing address:
Desert Tortoise Council
4654 East Avenue S #257B
Palmdale, CA 93552

Symposium Activities

Symposium Field Trip: 22 February 2018

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Habitat Restoration Join Dr. Scott Abella, assistant professor in restoration ecology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas for a visit to some of his restoration sites in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Although Dr. Abella has worked in many ecosystems throughout North America, he has specialized in restoration ecology of desert habitats throughout the world. Restoration ecology seeks to favorably change sites so an ecosystem can support native species and recover functions, like providing wildlife habitat. During our visit to Lake Mead there will be much time for a collegial discussion of the need, goals, objectives, and logistics of this and other of Dr. Abella’s projects.

We will meet in front of the Symposium Meeting Room (Ponderosa Room) in Sam’s Town at 7:30 AM. Bring water, lunch, and good walking shoes. It may be cold and windy so please bring warm clothes. Plan on a return of about 4:00 PM. Please contact Peter Woodman at for any questions and to register for the trip. When you register please let Peter know if you can drive and number of passengers you can take so he can set up car pools.

Symposium Speakers and Sessions

Speakers and session details are being confirmed and finalized at this time. Details will be posted here as they become available. Check back for the latest Symposium news.

The Call for Papers is on the Desert Tortoise Council's website, and we look forward to an influx of abstracts very soon! Please plan to submit an abstract or talk to the Program Chair, Kristin Berry, with your ideas for a paper.

The Program for the 2018 Symposium is rapidly moving forward with plans for a Special Session on Saturday focused on the rare, threatened, endangered, and other sensitive small animals occurring in desert tortoise habitat. Featured species include the endemic Mohave ground squirrel, burrowing owls, kit foxes, declining species of desert song birds, and, of course, a paper on gila monsters! We also plan sessions on results of recent translocation and headstarting research and many other topics. With tortoise populations continuing to decline, we anticipate one or more lively panel discussions on action plans to return many of the populations to viability.

On Saturday evening, Dr. Jim Andre will give us a short program on rare, threatened and endangered desert wildflowers and plants, emphasizing those occurring in desert tortoise habitat. Plan to join us! 2018 will be in Las Vegas at very low and reasonable room rates. In 2019, the Symposium will be held in Tucson, the land of the Sonoran tortoise and gila monsters!