Introduction to Desert Tortoises & Field Techniques
We are deeply grateful to the Turtle Survival Alliance for sponsoring our Introductory Course and providing much needed technical support.
The Desert Tortoise Council hopes to offer an introductory course about the Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in 2021. We will decide by June what we if we will be able to offer a course and what form, online, and/or in the field, when we have a better idea of what will be safe for everyone.
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.
However, a certificate of attendance does not guarantee any USFWS authorization or any other permit or permission.
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- USFWS 2010 Pre-Project Survey Protocol (outdated but useful)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- USFWS Translocation of Mojave Desert Tortoises from Project Sites: Plan Development Guidance (outdated but no replacement yet)