Understanding the specific causal effects of population decline and animal health in tortoise populations has been difficult, as tortoises are simultaneously exposed to a wide variety of these environmental stressors and seldom display clinical signs of physiological perturbations. Current health and disease screening methods often inadequately diagnose the clinical and physiological health conditions of wild tortoises, making it difficult to identify specific environmental conditions linked to declining animal health.
This multifaceted project is designed to 1) expand our understanding of how reptile species such as the desert tortoise respond physiologically to environmental perturbations, 2) incorporate innovative molecular diagnostics to advance our knowledge of wildlife health and disease, and 3) identify specific environmental factors that are needed to improve habitat conditions and overall health for the threatened desert tortoise.
For more information:
- Drake et al. 2017. Coupling gene-based and classic veterinary diagnostics improves interpretation of health and immune function in the Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
- Drake et al. 2016. Negative impacts of invasive plants on conservation of sensitive desert wildlife
- Hinderle et al. 2014. The effects of homing and movement behaviors on translocation: desert tortoises in the Western Mojave Desert