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, and M.S. student Camille Traylor for a visit to restoration sites in Lake Mead National Recreation Area within protected tortoise habitat. 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 and opportunities to interact with local graduate student Camille Traylor working in tortoise habitat. Dr. Abella is also the director of the Mojave and Sonoran Desert region of the California Fire Science Consortium.

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!

Hotel Information

The 2018 Symposium will be held at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall located at 5111 Boulder Highway, Las Vegas, Nevada 89122-6004.

Hotel Room Reservations

For the Desert Tortoise Council to receive a special event rate for the conference room, we need to fulfill our sleeping room contractual obligations. If you haven’t already reserved your room at Sam’s Town, call the Hotel Reservation Department at 1-877-593-5993, which is open Monday through Friday between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Callers must identify themselves as attendees of the Desert Tortoise Council or with the group code of B8DTC02 to get the discounted rate. Room rates are $33.00 for Thursday night, $78.00 for Friday and Saturday nights, and $32.00 for Sunday night. All rooms are subject to a 13% room tax plus a $16.94 Resort Fee per room /per night. The cut-off date for reservations is January 28, 2018. Reservations can be made on-line, prior to the cut-off date of 28 January.

On-Line Reservations

Prior to the cut-off date, individuals may reserve their room online. To receive the special group rate members will need to enter the assigned Reserved ID: B8DTC02 through the Hotel’s website at

Transportation to and from the Airport

Sam’s Town does not have a shuttle to and from the airport. However SuperShuttle is available to and from the airport at $25.00 for a shared ride and $43.25 for a non-stop ride. Other shuttles or rides are also available and we recommend that you check the web. Arrangements can be made on the web.

Registering for the Symposium

Symposium Registration

Registration for the 2018 Symposium is OPEN through our Wild Apricot registration site.

Please take advantage of early-bird registration rates. If your registration is processed online after January 19, 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.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

  • Cancellations must be received three weeks prior to the Symposium for a refund minus a $20 handling fee.
  • Less than three weeks prior to the Symposium, 75% of the registration fees are forfeit.
  • Email to is sufficient to request cancellation of registration.
  • If the registrant sends a replacement under his/her registration less than three weeks prior to the Symposium, there will be a $20 extra handling charge.

Other Information

Funds are available for students who are giving papers and require support for travel.

And don't forget to enter the Desert Tortoise Council's Annual Photo Contest. Submissions are available for viewing on the Photo Entries page when they become available.