Introduction to Desert Tortoises & Field Techniques
The Desert Tortoise Council is pleased to offer an online lecture course about the Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).
Two half days: Friday November 6 from 12PM – 6PM and Saturday November 7 from 9AM – 3:00 PM Pacific Standard Time (end times approximate). (Not available separately)
Cost: Early registration: $150 ($50 for a student currently registered, proof of school registration required); Late registration (after September 30): $175 ($65).
This online lecture course includes specific information about the biology, ecology, habitat preferences, life history, and health of the Mojave Desert Tortoise as well as presentation of the threats the tortoise faces today. We will introduce how we do field surveys and tortoise handling, present advice on starting a career in field surveying, and provide an introduction to the permits and authorizations that are required from various agencies. This course is designed for wildlife biologists, zoologists, natural resource specialists, wildlife managers, land managers and recreation specialists and may be useful for teachers, students, professionals working with the public, and the general public.
See course content below.
Recordings of the course will be available to registered participants as online, read-only files. This will allow you to focus on the lectures during the course and make detailed notes after the class is over. You will NOT receive a copy of the course recordings.
For your registration you will receive:
- Access to the entire lecture course.
- A certificate of participation as soon as you complete the post course evaluation online.
- Access to recordings of the course, online and read only.
- Email access to course presenters for additional questions.
- Copies of pdf files listing permitting agencies and appropriate references to tortoise biology and conservation.
- Satisfaction of any prerequisite to a future introductory field training course.
- Early access to registration for the next introductory field course.
Additional Course Information
Please be prepared to use Zoom. You need to use a computer and not a phone or tablet. Be sure you have a good internet connection. Chrome and Microsoft Edge are excellent. Safari and Firefox are usually OK. Do NOT use Internet Explorer. Download the free Zoom app ahead of time.
By registering you agree not to share your course access code with anyone else.
Until September 30, the early rate, for the full course will be $150, $50 for registered students.
After September 30 the rate will be $175 and $65 for registered students. Any invoice that has not been paid by September 30 will be changed to the regular rate.
Persons seeking the student fee will need to email or snail mail a proof of registration to us before receiving the link to the course.
Full refunds will be given should the course be cancelled.
We are grateful to the Turtle Survival Alliance for hosting this course online as a Zoom webinar.
The Desert Tortoise Council’s Courses are recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, a certificate of attendance does not guarantee any USFWS authorization or any other permit or permission.
You must register and PAY THE INVOICE (this is a 2-step process) before you will receive the materials and the link and password to join the course. Materials will be sent to your email prior to the start of the course. The links and passwords will be sent just before the course begins. Persons seeking the student fee will need to email or snail mail a proof of registration to us before receiving the link.
Friday November 6, Day one, 12:00 to 17:30 Pacific Standard Time
- Welcome & Introduction, Instruction on using ZOOM, Course overview (Ed Larue)
- How to start a career in tortoise fieldwork (Bruce Palmer)
- The Mojave Desert Tortoise: taxonomy, anatomy and physiology, ecological characteristics, habitats and distribution, seasonality, nutrition and feeding, reproduction, behaviors. (Dr. Kristin Berry)
- Threats to tortoises: What they are and how we might deal with them (Dr. Michael Tuma)
- Field evaluations of Desert Tortoises for health and disease; Effects of diseases on populations (Dr. Kristin Berry)
- End of session I
Saturday November 7, Day two, 09:00 – 14:30 Pacific Standard Time
- Welcome to day two. (Ed LaRue)
- Finding and working with tortoises and distinguishing one type of sign from another (Peter Woodman)
- Tortoise field surveys, data collection, and interpretation (Dr. Alice Karl)
- Overview of permitting for tortoise fieldworkers (Ray Bransfield)
- Resource monitoring on construction projects; Doing the job and working well with your clients (Ed La Rue)
- End of Session II
There will be breaks as well as time for question and answer sessions after each talk and at the end of each day’s session.
Useful Information You Can Access Now
Thanks to a lot of work by Kristin Berry, there is a new bibliography that you can download from the USGS website. Download the Desert tortoise annotated bibliography, 1991-2015.
We also recommend the reference book: Rostal et al., Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014, 190pp.
The following USFWS web sites provide some valuable information on requirements for field projects involving the desert tortoise. The second web site also explains the requirements to become an authorized biologist under the USFWS. These web pages are currently in revision, so check back as we will post updates when we receive them.
- USFWS 2010 Pre-Project Survey Protocol (outdated but useful)
- Carlsbad Fish & Wildlife Survey Protocols & Guidelines (has updated protocol and additional information)
- USFWS Translocation of Mojave Desert Tortoises from Project Sites: Plan Development Guidance (outdated but no replacement yet)