Symposium Announcements


The Program for the 2017 Symposium is now available. Click 2017 Program to view the PDF document.

The Program for 2017 has taken form, and we have several sessions on the schedule, including: 1) Renewable Energy Development and Tortoise Translocations (7 papers), chaired by Amy Fesnock; 2) a Saturday session on the latest research on deer in the arid Southwest (13 papers), chaired by Vernon Bleich; 3) a session on the Sonoran desert tortoise (4 papers), chaired by Cristina Jones; and 4) a session titled “Evolution of Gopherus tortoises: Past, Present, and Future” (3 papers), chaired by Michael Tuma. In addition, there are several other sessions on a wide variety of topics.

The Renewable Energy and Translocation session features papers on survival of translocated tortoises in Ivanpah Valley (Brett Dickson and Rick Scherer), benefits of roadside mitigation fencing (Brian Todd and team), connectivity of tortoise populations (Ken Nussear and team), lessons from solar development in the Mojave Desert (Chris Blandford and Danna Hinderle), the BLM’s role in conservation of the tortoise (Mark Massar), and how to navigate difficult situations on projects (Kathy Simons).

The Saturday morning session of invited speakers on desert deer offers experts from colleges, universities, and agencies across the West, including Terry Bowyer, Vern Bleich, James Cain, Cynthia Downs, James Heffelfinger, David Hewitt, Paul Krausman, Kevin Monteith, Steven Rosenstock, Justin Shannon, Kelley Stewart, Brian Wakeling, and Peregrine Wolff. Topics are focused on the arid Southwest where deer and tortoises co-occur and cover taxonomy, sexual segregation, density dependence, diseases, conservation, behavioral and physiological adaptations, survey methods and harvest allocation for both mule and white-tailed deer, and interactions between bucks, does, jacks, and jennies in the Sonoran Desert. We couldn’t ask for a better collection of papers to become acquainted with other herbivores in tortoise habitats.

Cristina Jones’ session features an update from Kenro Kusumi and Marc Tollis on the Gopherus agassizii genome and subsequent evolutionary analysis directed towards a genome for the Sonoran Desert Tortoise. Tim Webster and team will give a paper on genomic evidence for local adaptations in G. agassizii and G. morafkai. We will also hear about movements and crossings projects associated with Sonoran desert tortoise habitat and ongoing efforts to monitor Sonoran tortoise populations.

The session on evolution of Gopherus includes presentations Michael Tuma, Dennis Bramble and J.H. Hutchinson. They draw on genetic, fossil, and morphological evidence to track the evolution of Gopherus tortoises and their gopherine relatives. Attendees will come away with an appreciation of the diversity of extinct and extant Gopherus tortoises, the latest application of phylogenetic, paleontological, and other techniques in describing their diversity, and the implications for conservation of extant Gopherus tortoises.

We have additional papers on such topics as health and disease (speakers include Mary Brown, Alexandra Burne, and Kristina Drake, 3 separate papers), Student Papers from Sara Valenzuela on the bolson tortoise and Alice Karl on survey results of the new reserve for the Thornscrub tortoise. The Conservation session offers reports on the newly formed Coalition for a Balanced Environment (raven management) with Larry LaPré, and papers by the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, Center for Biological Diversity, and students from the BREN Institute at UC Santa Barbara. Please join us for a very stimulating meeting to hear these and other papers.

Registering for the Symposium

Symposium Registration

NOTE: We have extended the early registration deadline by one week. Early registration rates will apply through 26 January. Regular registration rates will apply beginning 27 January through the beginning of the Sympoium.

Registration for the 2017 Symposium is OPEN through our Wild Apricot registration site. Please click Wild Apricot Registration Services web site to access the Symposium registration web site.

Please take advantage of early-bird registration rates. If your registration is processed online after January 26, rates are higher. The registration fee includes 2 continental breakfasts (Saturday and Sunday); 2 refreshment breaks; a mixer on Friday evening that includes heavy hors d’oeurves and a no-host bar; and on Saturday evening a dinner buffet and no-host bar banquet. Please remember to renew your membership dues at this time to be eligible to receive the member registration rate.

At this time Wild Apricot Registration Services does not offer membership renewal during event registration. Wild Apricot suggests completing your membership renewal, then completing your event registration, and adding the two invoice totals together to make one PayPal payment. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience.

If you are unable to register online, click 2017 registration form to download the printable registration form for the 2017 Symposium. Please take advantage of early-bird registration rates. If your registration is postmarked after 19 January, rates are higher. Please complete a separate registration form for each attendee. Please make your check payable to Desert Tortoise Council. Send your completed form with your check or money order to this address:
Desert Tortoise Council
4654 East Avenue S #257B
Palmdale, CA 93552


The hotel does not provide an airport shuttle. Shuttle service is provided to The Strip and Downtown.