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Auteur Topic: Gopherus agassizi (onderzoek, herplaatsing, natuurlijk habitat)  (gelezen 21922 keer)
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« Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 17:52:20 »

Gopherus agassizi (onderzoek, herplaatsing, natuurlijk habitat)


Bedankt Michael W Tuma voor de foto's van de Gopherus agassizi waarmee je werkt en onderzoek naar doet, natuurlijk ook voor de tekst die je bij de foto's hebt geschreven.

Schildpaddennet team




Gopherus 241 verscholen onder een Ambrosia struik en wachtend op de regen.


Gopherus 124 wachtend op de regen op een heuveltop.


Gopherus 300 wandelend naar een plek om te wachten op de regen.


Gopherus 74 wacht voor de regen onder een Desert boxthorn struik.


Gopherus 128 heeft een nieuwe burcht gegraven.


Gopherus halwas 1-1 wachtend onder een Ambrosia struik op de regen.


Gopherus 23 lopend naar een kuil inafwachting van de regen, en het water wat in deze kuil terecht komt.


Gopherus juvenile dieren wachtend op de regen, op en plek waar ze eerder water gevonden hebben.


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin.


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin.



Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin.


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin.


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin.


Gopherus translocatee van Ford Irwin.


Gopherus van het Biological Conservation Area Fort Irwin San Bernadino County


Gopherus 44 van het Biological Conservation Area Fort Irwin San Bernadino County


Gopherus 44 van het Biological Conservation Area Fort Irwin San Bernadino County


Gopherus 125 rust tijdens een voedseltocht onder een Ambtosia struik.


Gopherus 300 op zoek naar voedsel heeft Malacothrix petals in zijn bek.


Gopherus 60 op zoek naar voedsel.


Gopherus juvenile 1-1 op zoek naar voedsel.


Gopherus 95 zont bij de ingang van zijn burcht, voordat hij opzoek gaat naar voedsel.


Gopherus 238 opzoek naar voedsel


Gopherus man die deel uitmaakt van de Fort Irwin epidemiology studie


Gopherus hatchling afkomstig van Fort Irwin wacht op een gezondsheids inspectie en gelijk worden monsters afgenomen.


Gopherus halfwas komt te voorschijn uit zijn burcht.


Gophereus wordt onderzocht op zijn gezondheid.


Gopherus agassizi habitat locatie Fort Irwin.



Een storm trekt over het Fort Irwin gebied Goperus 128 ligt plat op het oppervlakte van een graniet rots, wachtend tot het regenwater valt.
Gopherus agassizi kunnen zich herrinderen waar zij eerder water hebben gevonden.
Ze gaan naar deze plek waneer ze voelen dat er regen opkomst is.
Gopherus agassizi krijgen weinig gelegenheid in hun natuurlijke omgeving om te drinken.
Ze hebbendeze strategie ontwikkeld om waneer de kans zich voordoet optimaal van het regenwater te profiteren door alvast op een plek te gaan zitten waar ze weten dat ze kunnen drinken nog voor de regen valt.



Waneer de regenstorm op het punt staat te beginnen gaat Gopherus 24 alvast zitten op de plek aan de basis van een kleine heuvel, wachtend tot de regen straks van de heuvel naar beneden stroomd.
Het zand rond zijn bek laat zien dat Gopherus hun bek in het vochtige zand duwen en op die manier drinken tijdens de regen.


Waneer de storm dichtbij komt verlaat Gopherus 224 zijn burcht en gaat zitten in een kleine kuil waar vanaf de heuvelzijde water instroomd.


Vlak voor de eileg is deze rontgenfoto genomen, dit laat zien dat Gopherus vrouwtje 740 6 eieren bij zich draagt. Camp Shelby, Perry County


Gopherus 23 verlaat zijn burcht


Gopherus 127 dood gevonden 75 meter vanaf zijn burcht.
Tijdens extreem droge jaren eten coyte's en andere roofdieren meer Gopherus omdat hun normale prooi (konijnen enz.) schaars wordt.


Gopherus krijgt een transmitter, dit dier behoord tot het epidemiology rescearch gebied vlakbij Dagettt, California.


Waneer een Gopherus zich verzet om uit zijn burcht te komen wordt geprobeerd te meten en te onderzoeken in zijn burcht ingang.

Gopherus behoord tot het epidemiology rescearch gebied vlakbij Dagettt, California.



Gopherus waar bloed afgenomen wordt voor onderzoek.


Gopherus 60


Gopherus 111


Gopherus juvenile waar bloed afgenomen wordt voor onderzoek.


Op zoek naar Gopherus agassizi.


Gopherus 125


Halfwas Gopherus uit het headstarting studie onderzoek.


Gopherus 23


Gopherus halfwas 9-2


Gopherus juvenile wordt gewogen.


Gopherus 67


Dit is het nieuw ontwikkelde Biological Conservation gebied van Fort Irwin.


Predator-veilige schildpaddenkooi Fort Irwin studie gebied b.v voor het headstarting van jonge Gopherus.


Gopherus 150


Gopherus 4-2


Gegevens verzamelen van de juveniele Gopherus de opgroeien in de predator-veilige schildpadden kooi.


Gopherus 151


Jonge Gopherus van het headstarting programma.


Gopherus 205 dood, typisch verwonding/doodsoorzaak door raven (raven nemen toe door vuilnis van mensen in het habitat van de Gopherus agassizi)


Gopherus 11-1

Michael W. Tuma in Goperus agissizi habitat.

Goperus 9-2 wordt opgemeten.



Goperus 11-1


 Gopherus 1-1 bij zijn burcht.


Gopherus pasgeboren Fort Irwin.


Gopherus halfwas Fort Irwin


Gopherus vrouw Fort Irwin.


Gopherus man Fort Irwin.


Gopherus halfwas Fort Irwin


Gopherus juvenile Fort Irwin


Gopherus man Fort Irwin


Gopherus vrouw Fort Irwin.


Alle foto's staan onder copyright en zijn eigendom van schildpadden.net
Voor alle foto's is toestemming gevraagd en ook verleend aan/door de auteurs.

(foto's eigendom Michael W. Tuma)

« Laatste verandering: 17 Juni 2011, 21:37:02 door kurtlippens » Gelogd
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« Antwoord #1 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 17:55:07 »

LOS ANGELES TIMES (California) 28 November 05 Far More Than Creatures of Habit - A biologist contends that individual tortoises have their own personalities. Such thinking is part of a controversial trend in animal behaviorism. (Louis Sahagun)
Baker, California: Among the tortoises — out in their Mojave Desert kingdom of arroyos and burrows fringed with creosote — the hormones were running high.
Among them was an old male courting so many females that scientists dubbed him a "cad." An unusually cooperative female they called a "hussy." Then there was a bully who thrashed competitors, but was no stud, and a huge female who showed little interest in guys.
Recent dawn-to-dusk observations have led U.S. Geological Survey biologist Kristin Berry to the provocative conclusion that Gopherus agassizii is anything but a slow, dull homebody. Tortoises don't just demonstrate behavior, she says, they show personality.
"They are not the same inside their shells; they are individuals interacting in complex communities," she said. "And there may be behavior occurring in ways we haven't yet learned to observe, or interpret. How does a tortoise exhibit joy, or play, or express frustration?"
Asking such a question was once heresy in scientific circles. But Berry and a growing number of researchers are rejecting the decades-old notion that nonhuman creatures are instinctive automatons devoid of feelings.
Where even some skeptical scientists were comfortable acknowledging that dogs, dolphins and chimpanzees show signs of personality, this new field sees a spectrum of temperament and emotions among almost all animals: octopuses and lizards, crayfish and spiders. Even fruit flies.
"Ours is a holistic view," said Andy Sih, a biologist at UC Davis, which has become a major center of research into what Sih prefers to call "behavioral syndromes in animals."
"Some scientists study bird songs, or prey behavior, or mating behavior. We are saying they are all related," he said. "Individuals who are aggressive toward other males, for example, also tend to be more aggressive in their hunting styles, and more coercive rather than nice toward females."
"It makes things a lot more complicated," he added, "but if that is the reality, you have to account for that."
His colleague, biology professor Judith Stamps, was more blunt: "Instinct is out of favor."
"This field opens us up to thinking that there are other life forms as varied as we are," she said. "Anyone with a dog or a cat at home knows this. In some places, it is important to be shy. In other places, it pays to be aggressive. Animals that live in groups might work better with a combination: some attacking, some laying low, others finding food."
That kind of talk is nothing new. Even Charles Darwin argued that emotions exist in both humans and animals.
But in the 1930s, to avoid anthropomorphizing, scientists began focusing on how animals react to stimuli, rather than broader personality traits, such as a tendency among certain alpha male tortoises to fight all day long.
All that began to change in the 1990s, when it become acceptable again, as UC Berkeley biologist Samuel D. Gosling puts it, to think of personality traits in animals as a reflection of behaviors that persist over time and in different situations.
Gosling mapped the landscape of personality in captive spotted hyenas, for example, and discovered five basic dimensions: dominance, excitability, sociability, curiosity and tolerance of humans.
"If we are to take evolution seriously," he said, "it would be a disaster to think that personality suddenly emerged when humans departed from chimpanzees."
Even colonies of brainless sea anemones fight as organized armies with distinct castes of warriors, scouts and reproducers, according to a new study by David J. Ayre from the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Richard Grosberg from UC Davis.
"Some have better memories. Some are more aggressive. Some are wimps," Grosberg said. "So, do sea anemones have personalities? Sure enough."
Implications of animal behavior that goes a step beyond what can be quantified ruffles the feathers of biologists who insist that data be repeatable in controlled conditions.
Among the skeptics is Peter Marler, professor emeritus in behavioral neurobiology at UC Davis, whom younger colleagues respectfully refer to as the alpha male of traditional animal behavior research.
"It is very difficult to develop a means of measuring personality and temperament in animals in a repeatable way," Marler said.
"So when you start talking about animal friendliness or shyness without an objective index to measure it," he added, "you're heading into the wild blue yonder."
Yet, even Marler recalled a thought-provoking study of white-crown sparrows: "We had a male who burbled a soft rendition of a particular song while going to sleep. Of course, you don't know what was going on inside his head. But it was a song he sang to a specific female he had mated with five years earlier."
Was the sparrow reliving a happy liaison? It's impossible to say, and that's why some scientists remain skeptics.
Glen Stewart, a professor of zoology at Cal Poly Pomona and an expert herpetologist, draws a line on referring to tortoises, which have pea-sized brains, as studs and hussies.
"Kristin Berry is a solid scientist and one of the real authorities on desert tortoises," Stewart said, carefully weighing his words. "But when it comes to reptiles, it may be a little inappropriate to use terms like hussy and so forth, and more appropriate to say things more objectively."
But Marc Bekoff, a proponent of animal personality at the University of Colorado, found that the motions and postures of canines at play are part of a complex social language.
"Evolutionarily, it makes sense to have diversity in personality," Bekoff said. "And we clearly see that animals have distinct personalities, and their motivations to do different behaviors vary from day to day, moment to moment."
Added Bekoff: "You can't have a wolf pack of all alpha males."
In the Mojave, tortoises display such a wide variety of personalities during courting season that it is hard to fully understand them. Yet, in the battle of the tanks vs. tortoises at Ft. Irwin, about 30 miles northwest of Baker, their survival depends largely upon whether scientists can discern what makes a tortoise tick.
The military plans to expand the area used for battlefield exercises to accommodate a new generation of weapons and tactics. Those plans include relocating about 1,500 of the reptiles, which are protected by state and federal law, to new environs where they won't be squashed by military equipment.
In the largest relocation of reptiles ever attempted in California, the first wave of 300 tortoises is expected to be trucked out early next year to similar terrain several miles away.
"Social behavior is something we're seriously looking into in our translocation plans," said Mickey Quillman, natural and cultural resources manager at Ft. Irwin.
"We'll be taking tortoises from the same general vicinity — big ones and little ones — and moving them together in one fell swoop," he said. "Kristin Berry's studies suggest there's a good chance those tortoises have intermingled in the past, and we don't want to break up that behavior."
Tires crunched on gravel as Berry stopped her truck and gazed across a designated Army tortoise research site of arroyos, alluvial plains and hills buttressed by the Soda Mountains.
On this arid stage, Berry has outfitted 28 tortoises slated for removal with radio transmitters in order to learn all she can about what she called "one of the few populations left in California that is remote, stable and relatively intact."
With a wave of her hand, Berry said, "From that ridge all the way over to that one, a magnificent 10-pound alpha male tortoise we know as No. 43 reigns supreme."
"He's not good at mating — too eager. He just looks at a female and turns to mush," she said with a laugh. "But he's a heck of a fighter and patrols a huge territory. We've seen him make long, arduous journeys across a wash and halfway up a mountain just to beat up a smaller male."
Berry trudged to the top of a hill and used a hand-held antenna to pinpoint the locations of other tortoises.
On that day, all the action was below the surface in burrows connected by dusty paths tortoises have used for perhaps hundreds of years.
Peering into one of the caves with light reflected off a small mirror, she said, "There's a little guy in front and a big mama in back. It's a big female who prefers boys to big alpha males."
Female tortoises are choosy about their mates.
Take tortoise No. 41, a very old, reclusive and small female with osteoporosis. She has four boyfriends, none of them among the alpha males who occasionally visit her.
Tortoises spend most of their lives underground.
But when mating season reaches its height — August through early October — they lumber forth in the mid-morning and late afternoon to forage for wildflowers, and display a suite of courting and dominance behaviors based on constant fighting.
When male tortoises face off, they bite, claw and ram, and use a horn under the chin to flip a foe over on its back.
Then, in a humiliating coup de grace, the winner mounts the loser.
Their aggression is not surprising. Male tortoises in mating season are operating under the influence of extremely high levels of testosterone.
In the afternoon, Berry caught up with a tortoise she officially knows as No. 29, and unofficially as the "cad" and "fearless kingpin."
He probably hatched from an egg when Calvin Coolidge was president. As the big male was weighed and measured by an assistant — about 11 inches long and about 9 1/2 pounds — she gazed into its eyes and said, "There is so much we still don't know about these creatures."
"At a time when disease is spreading among them and there are plans for translocation, we're only beginning to study their social lives," she said. "Determining how complex these creatures actually are can help us understand better how to save them."
No. 29 stared back at her, eyes blinking.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tortoise28nov28,0,4660224,full.story?coll=la-home-local
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« Antwoord #2 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 17:56:43 »

LOS ANGELES TIMES (California) 11 May 08 Slow, steady -- and under siege - Endangered tortoises airlifted from an Army base face other threats. (Louis Sahagun)
Barstow: As the sun rose over the Mojave Desert, researcher Kristina Drake approached with caution as a creature with weary eyes, a scuffed carapace and skin as rough as rhino hide peered at her from the edge of a dirt road just east of here.
Wearing rubber gloves, Drake picked up the old female California desert tortoise and, in one fluid motion, moved her to safer ground beneath a nearby creosote bush. "It's one of ours," she said. "No. 4118."
The tortoise, nicknamed "Road Warrior," was among the 760 captured and airlifted by helicopter a month ago out of the southern portion of the Army's nearby National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, which is slated for expanded combat exercises. Her well-being in new terrain is essential to the $8.7-million relocation effort, which has been hit hard by a problem unforeseen by federal biologists: rampant coyote attacks.
"Coyotes didn't seem to be a problem when we started," said U.S. Geological Survey biologist Kristin Berry, a lead scientist in the project. "The question in the back of all of our minds now is this: How could we have determined that this was going to happen?"
The California tortoise, whose population has fallen to an estimated 45,000 on the public lands in the western Mojave, is protected under state and federal endangered species acts.
In 2001, Congress authorized Ft. Irwin to expand into prime tortoise habitat. As mitigation, the Army agreed to move the tortoises from the expansion area onto unoccupied public lands, an effort that began in late March.
So far, at least 14 translocated adult tortoises and 14 resident tortoises in the area have been killed and eaten by coyotes, according to biologists monitoring survival rates of the reptiles, most of which were fitted with radio transmitters. In a related problem, 15 of 70 baby tortoises collected at the training center as part of the relocation have died of various causes, Army officials said.
The problem, they say, may be linked to severe drought, which killed off plants and triggered a crash in rodent populations. As a result, coyotes, which normally thrive on kangaroo rats and rabbits, are turning to the lumbering Gopherus agassizii for sustenance.
In an effort to prevent further losses, the Army has requested that the predators, described by one military spokesman as a "rogue clan of coyotes," be eradicated by animal control sharpshooters. The gunners, however, have been delayed for weeks by bureaucratic red tape, military officials said.
In the meantime, many translocated tortoises have shown a tendency to wander, sometimes for miles, often in a northward direction back toward the Army base. Gashes and tooth marks on the shell of a translocated tortoise found April 15 indicated that it had been ripped out of the front of its carapace.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson-based environmental group, said it plans to file suit later this month against the Army, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management for allegedly violating the federal Endangered Species Act in their management of desert tortoises.
Desert tortoises spend most of their lives underground. Recent studies indicate that the creatures, which can live for a century, are extremely sensitive and have complex social lives.
Of particular concern, lawyers for the center say, was the Army's decision a month ago to move tortoises to areas where they would be vulnerable to potentially lethal threats. The Army had been warned that numerous environmental studies expressed concern about vehicle traffic, drought-stricken foraging grounds, and resident tortoises suffering from infectious respiratory disease and predation by ravens, dogs and coyotes.
"The deed is done, and now we are watching the aftermath," said Ilene Anderson, a biologist and spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity. "It's a disaster. We've lost so many tortoises -- the California state reptile and a species that has taken a nose dive over the past 20 years -- so early on in the project."
Michael Connor, a longtime advocate of the tortoise and California science director of the Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit conservation group, was critical of the Army's plan to wipe out suspect coyotes.
"These aren't rogue coyotes. They're just coyotes trying to make a living in the desert," Connor said. "Now they want to shoot them. Fine. But what happens if there are unforeseen implications from wiping out the region's top predator, like an explosion of rabbits and rats?"
Beyond that, he added, "the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had identified canine attacks as possible threats even before the project got underway. So I'm surprised the scientists are surprised that tortoises are becoming targets."
In any case, William Boarman, an adjunct professor of biology at San Diego State who's helping direct the translocation project, said that after the Army decided to expand operations at Ft. Irwin, "we were stuck with bad options: move the tortoises or leave them in place, which would have been much worse."
"Translocation was always risky," he added. "We're trying to make it work the best we can, and conduct research that can help us make future translocations more effective."
In years to come, the Army plans to relocate an additional 1,200 tortoises from the western edge of the base to prevent them from being squashed by military equipment.
Field researchers said most of the predation has occurred in areas between the rugged Calico Mountains and desolate Coyote Dry Lake.
On a recent weekday morning, USGS field researcher Kevin Lucas strode across loose rock and cholla cactus in a sandy wash just north of the lake near where a hefty radio-collared male tortoise, variously known as "No. 4164" and "Thor," relaxed in a patch of shade.
That tortoise was among the lucky ones.
"There was another translocated tortoise I'd really gotten to like, even admire," Lucas said. "He was a tremendous mountain climber with a can-do personality.
"The last time I saw him, he was on a steep slope in howling winds and something didn't look right," he recalled. "Through binoculars, I saw that his head and legs were missing. A deep sadness came over me."
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tortoise11-2008may11,0,5101478.story?track=rss
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« Antwoord #3 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 17:58:24 »

PRESS-ENTERPRISE (Riverside, California) 16 April 08 Army's transfer of Mojave Desert tortoises tripped up by coyotes (Jennifer Bowles)
Coyotes have killed at least 11 desert tortoises recently moved to make way for Army tank training exercises north of Barstow.
The problem coyotes, thought to be attacking tortoises because the drought has left fewer rabbits in its wake, will be tracked and possibly killed by a federal agency to help protect the tortoises -- a species threatened with extinction
All together, 23 tortoises have been killed since the large-scale relocation of more than 700 reptiles began in March south of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, said John Wagstaffe, an Army spokesman.
Some of the tortoises were already living in the relocation area.
Roy Averill-Murray, who is the desert tortoises recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said three tortoises survived attacks. Two tortoises had one of their legs chewed off, and one of the reptiles required treatment after being found flipped over on its shell for three days in a row, Averill-Murray said.
Dr. Leonard Sigdestad at Loma Linda Animal Hospital in San Bernardino operated on two of the tortoises last week and amputated one maggot-infested leg from each of them. He released them back to the federal biologists who are monitoring the tortoises in the wild.
Kristin Berry, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S Geological Survey, took one of the tortoises to her Riverside home to care for it. She said it can barely walk but she hopes it can one day be returned to the wild.
Out by Fort Irwin, biologists have been tracking the relocated tortoises with transmitters glued to their shells on a daily basis and found the ones that died, Wagstaffe said.
The Army started moving the tortoises in late March from the southern boundary of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin as part of an $8.5 million effort to deal with the threatened species while expanding its training grounds into the land considered critical for the tortoises.
The move capped a 20-year battle between the military and environmentalists.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees much of the land selected for relocating the displaces tortoises. BLM officials a few days ago discussed strategies with other federal and state agencies on how to solve the coyote problem, said Doran Sanchez, acting associate manager of the agency's California desert district.
Attacks by coyotes on tortoises are rare, said Averill-Murray. He said that with the drought in the Mojave Desert over the past few years, coyotes outnumber rabbits, their typical food source,
"The coyotes are just desperate and the tortoises are a tough food item to eat with that big shell," he said. "Rabbits would be easier, but when there aren't many rabbits, then tortoises seem to be their next choice."
Berry, with the USGS, said short-lived animals like rabbits don't bounce back quickly from drought.
She said coyotes recently have killed tortoises in other study plots in California and Nevada but it is infrequent. This spring, she said, presented a good time to relocate the reptiles from Fort Irwin because of the abundance of wildflowers, their main food source.
"We hoped with the flush of wildflowers we might be seeing some ground squirrels and other rodents the coyotes could eat," she said. "You can take it into account but we can't control every aspect of nature, if any."
The wildlife service division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same agency that plans to shoot ravens found preying on young tortoises in other parts of the Mojave Desert, will help the Army remove the coyotes in three, one-square-mile plots where many of the dead reptiles were found. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the Army's plans to shoot or use traps and decoy dogs to capture the coyotes.
The job of decoy dogs "is to respond to coyotes calls and lure the coyote within shooting range," according to an April 15 letter to the Army by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Averill-Murray said it will be up to the crews in the field to determine whether to shoot the coyotes. He said he was unsure if they could be relocated.
"The plan is just to keep this as targeted and as limited as possible to alleviate the pressure. It's not widespread," he said. He added that there's no evidence of major preying throughout the habitat where the tortoises were moved.
Two environmental groups have threatened to sue the Army over the large-scale relocation of the tortoises, and they plan to go ahead with the lawsuit to ensure the new habitat is managed actively, said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Anderson agreed with Averill-Murray that the drought has caused an imbalance in the ecosystem. But she said that's no excuse for putting the tortoises in harm's way.
"While we're devastated, we're not shocked this is happening," she said. "You're putting these animals out there and if they're the only thing moving, they're going to be a target for predators."
Wagstaffe said the move was done to the best of the Army's ability with the help of federal and state biologists, and the tortoises will continue to be closely monitored.
"Part of the beauty of doing a detailed study is we're going to learn a lot of stuff," he said. "And we'll find some things that we did very well and some that didn't go well."
http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_tortoises17.3b47e13.html
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« Antwoord #4 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 17:59:33 »

SAN BERNARDINO SUN (California) 04 April 08 Tortoise Transfer: 800 being moved out of forts way (Lauren McSherry)
Newberry Springs: The helicopter carrying unusual cargo circled once before setting down Friday on a rocky patch of desert just east of the Calico Mountains and south of Coyote Lake.
It was loaded with desert tortoises - 11 of them - that had been tenderly placed in individual, clear Sterilite boxes secured in aircraft-grade aluminum bins attached to each side of the helicopter.
The landing complete, researchers ran to the helicopter to retrieve the reptiles.
The drop-off was the fourth of the day at one of 13 sites being used for the relocation of nearly 800 desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert.
The effort to remove the tortoises from harm's way was initiated by the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, which is expanding its borders in order to train soldiers being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
But by pushing its borders west and south, Fort Irwin is encroaching on areas occupied by the desert tortoise, which is federally listed as a threatened species.
The Army has spent more than $8.5 million on research and relocation of the tortoises, said Muhammad Bari, environmental division chief at Fort Irwin.
The effort began March 27, and is expected to take about two more weeks, said Kristin Berry, a U.S. Geological Survey wildlife biologist based in Riverside. It is being carried out by several federal and state agencies and ITS Corp.
The helicopter is crucial to the effort because it makes for easy access to the remote and largely undeveloped 389-square-mile area south of Fort Irwin. It also spares the tortoises from a long, bumpy ride over dirt roads to the distant sites.
Before being flown in, the tortoises are weighed, measured and given a water bath to help re-hydrate them. They then are tested for upper respiratory tract disease, a deadly illness that has broken out in areas of the High Desert.
The relocation is not the largest ever attempted - more than 1,000 tortoises have been moved in other parts of the Southwest - but the scope of the project is groundbreaking.
No relocation has involved moving an entire intact population from one area to another, nor has there ever been such extensive long-term monitoring of tortoises and their habitat, said William Boarman, a project leader with Conservation Science Research & Consulting.
Berry is one of the experts involved in the monitoring. She hopes it will answer a number of questions, particularly about the respiratory disease and its causes.
She also wonders how the relocated tortoises will fare.
"How many are going to stay?" she asked. "Will any head for home? Do they have a homing capability?"
X-rays will be taken of female tortoises to see how moving them has affected reproduction, and DNA will be collected from hatchlings to see if there is any interbreeding between the original tortoise population and the newly added population, Berry said.
Transmitters resembling miniature car antennas are attached to the sides of the tortoises' shells so scientists can map their movements and retrieve them to study their health over the next five years.
The relocation has garnered some controversy. Last month, the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors announced plans to file a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army over the relocation project. The groups want the military to do a better job of protecting the animals by prohibiting off-road vehicles, stepping up enforcement against illegal dumping and limiting roads in the area.
On Friday, as the sun reached its zenith, one tortoise, released beneath the shade of a creosote bush, emerged to chomp on some tufts of green filaree.
Earlier in the day, Berry had stood surveying the desert and this year's extraordinary wildflower bloom, which guarantees plenty of food for the tortoises.
"This is a very good year for a release," she said.
http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_8818216
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« Antwoord #5 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 18:00:42 »

PRESS-ENTERPRISE (Riverside, California) 05 April 08 Tortoises airlifted to new home to make room for Fort Irwin expansion (Jennifer Bowles)
The helicopter sweeping above the desert scrub Friday northeast of Barstow carried rare and precious cargo in the aluminum boxes mounted above both skids.
The specially built boxes held 11 desert tortoises, each contained in a plastic sweater box secured with duct tape and punched with holes so the creatures could breathe. The reptiles, threatened with extinction, were among hundreds being relocated from land where the Army wants to train soldiers with tanks and weaponry of war.
"It's better they take a nine-minute helicopter ride than a bumpy two-hour truck trip" on dirt roads, said Bill Boarman, a scientist contracted by the Army to oversee the relocation.
The tortoises -- protected by one of the nation's most powerful environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act -- moved Friday were airlifted to an area west of the Calico Mountains and five miles north of Interstate 15. The Army's two-week operation will relocate nearly 770 of the reptiles from the southern border of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, where troops from across the country battle a home team posing as the enemy.
The $8.5 million move, the culmination of a 20-year battle that pitted environmentalists against the military, went ahead despite two environmental groups' recent threat to sue.
"We are at war, and we need to train the solider so they are prepared," said Muhammad Bari, environmental divisions chief at Fort Irwin.
The Army is expanding its training grounds by 131,000 acres to accommodate faster-moving tanks and longer-range weaponry. Some of that land, which had been under U.S. Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction, is considered critical for the tortoises to survive.
The Army had its eye on a far bigger chunk of land in the past. In 1997, the Army wanted 331,217 acres, and earlier proposals were even larger, said Elden Hughes, a longtime Sierra Club member who lives in Joshua Tree.
Hughes, 76, said both sides compromised over the years. But still, he fears some of the tortoises will die after the move.
"Your soul cries. And the desert will be the poorer for it," he said. "Do it the best you can, but you realize you're losing things."
Hughes said the large burrows that the lumbering reptiles dig create homes for a slew of wildlife, including burrowing owls, coyotes and lizards.
"It creates most of the terrestrial homes in the desert; all life suffers if we lose the tortoise."
In the largest field experiment of its type, government and private scientists will study how the tortoises adapt to their new habitat over the next four years.
Scientists will check on their health, whether respiratory and shell diseases show up in larger numbers, whether they stay within their new habitat, and whether their reproduction is affected by the move, said Kristin Berry, a wildlife biologist and tortoise expert with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Fort Irwin's Bari said that, if the tortoises fare poorly in their new habitat, the Army will consult the scientists to see if anything should be done.
Work on the relocation project started 18 months ago when biologists began tracking tortoises in the area Fort Irwin had claimed.
The scientists attached transmitters to the tortoises' shells, assessed the animals' health and conducted blood tests. Reptiles that tested positive for a contagious respiratory disease were left in their habitat and will be tested again later, Berry said. They could be put in pens at Fort Irwin away from healthy tortoises and the tanks, but if they are in bad shape, they may be euthanized and necropsied, she said.
On Friday, a crew of 25 from an Army contractor moved 37 tortoises. Crew members armed with radios had scoured the land in the Fort Irwin expansion area Thursday to locate the tortoises, then gave them water, examined them and loaded them into boxes to await Friday's flights.
At the new location, each tortoise was placed in a burrow, some manmade, or under the shade of a creosote bush.
Colin Spake, one of the biologists, donned gloves to take female tortoise No. 2552 from her box and hoist her with string to weigh her -- just over 5 pounds -- with a spring scale. After recording the location and other details, he placed her into the burrow. Later, she could be seen peering out.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors have filed an official notice of intent to sue, alleging the relocation area is plagued by illegal dumping and off-roading, mines, lower-quality habitat, and tortoises with diseases that could spread to the new arrivals.
The decline of the reptiles, which have lived in the Mojave Desert for hundreds of thousands of years, has been blamed on disease, predation by ravens, habitat loss and off-roading, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are found in widely scattered areas of the Mojave in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the center, said the groups still plan to file suit.
"We want the relocation area to be much better protected then it currently is," she said.
"It's an onerous, gigantic experiment to begin with," Anderson said, noting that research has found that 20 percent of relocated tortoises die or can never be found again. "So that's a big hit. Compounding that with disease problems just seems like it dilutes the effectiveness of the translocation."
On Friday, biologists said time will tell.
Berry glanced at the ground, noticing desert dandelions and other annual flowers the tortoise eat.
"There were tortoises here already," she said. "One of the questions we'll find out is how many will stay and who will leave."
http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_D_tortoises05.3a23a1f.html
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« Antwoord #6 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 18:02:08 »

Mojave tortoises moved for Army training

FORT IRWIN, Calif. (AP) -- Scientists have begun moving the Mojave Desert's flagship species, the desert tortoise, to make room for tank training at the Army's Fort Irwin despite protests by some conservationists.

The controversial project, billed as the largest desert tortoise move in California history, involves transferring 770 endangered reptiles from Army land to a dozen public plots overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Fort Irwin has sought to expand its 643,000-acre training site into tortoise territory for two decades. The Army said it needs an extra 131,000 acres to accommodate faster tanks and longer-range weapons used each month to train some 4,000 troops.

Desert tortoises are the longest-living reptiles in the Southwest with a potential life span of 100 years and can weigh up to 15 pounds. Their population has been threatened in recent years by urbanization, disease and predators including the raven.

Weeks before the relocation, two conservation groups threatened to sue Fort Irwin. The Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors contend that the land set aside for the desert tortoises is too close to an interstate highway and is plagued with off-road vehicles and illegal dumping that would disturb the animals.

The groups served Fort Irwin with a 60-day notice of intent to sue and plan to file the lawsuit after the desert tortoises have been moved.

"There's still a lot of work that needs to be done to make the relocation site more habitable ... so the animals would survive better there," said Ileene Anderson, a staff biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Fort Irwin lawyers and federal wildlife officials determined the claims were unfounded and decided to go ahead with the $8.5 million project. The process began last weekend and will last two weeks. The tortoises, including about 67 babies, are being moved into habitats approved by the U.S. Geological Survey and other experts.

"The translocation of tortoises is a very complex process," Fort Irwin spokesman John Wagstaffe said in a recent interview. "You have to move them gently and make sure they don't get stressed during the move."

About a year before the transfer, biologists tagged desert tortoises living in the proposed training expansion area with radio transmitters and took blood tests to make sure they were healthy.

Scientists have a short window to relocate the animals, which recently awakened from winter hibernation and will return to their burrows in the summer.

Last weekend, a group equipped with receivers scanned the desert for signs of the tagged tortoises, placed them in plastic containers and hauled them to their new home. They were given water and released.

Scientists will continue to monitor the relocated tortoises for signs of stress.

Research studies show relocated tortoises typically spend the first year roaming. Over time, they settle down and survive as well as tortoises that stayed put, said Roy Averill-Murray, desert tortoise recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Reno, Nev.

"We're plopping them down in a new area that they're not familiar with so they spend the first year or so learning their surroundings and where the good burrow sites are," Averill-Murray said Thursday.

Averill-Murray helped plan the Fort Irwin project, but is not involved in the actual move.

http://www.irwin.army.mil/
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« Antwoord #7 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 18:03:32 »

PRESS-ENTERPRISE (Riverside, California) 02 July 08 Army, Bureau of Land Management sued over tortoise relocations (Jennifer Bowles)
Two environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Army, alleging it moved more than 700 desert tortoises to habitat that is lower quality and with pockets of disease-ridden tortoises that already live there.
The goal of the lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors is to make sure the new habitat for the reptile is managed as a reserve and that subsequent relocations from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin are done with more study, said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco.
The desert tortoise is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species Act.
Biologist Colin Spake, of San Francisco, checks his notes before releasing tortoises in the Mojave Desert.
John Wagstaffe, an Army spokesman, said he couldn't confirm the Army was sued. But he said the Army's relocation effort of 770 tortoises last spring was the largest in California. It was part of an $8.5 million effort to expand Fort Irwin while dealing with the species protected by both state and federal governments.
Additional tortoises are expected to be moved when the Army expands Fort Irwin.
Of those moved last spring south of Fort Irwin, about a dozen were killed within a couple of weeks, possibly by coyotes, the lawsuit said.
"We are going to learn stuff that we didn't know and we'll learn how to translocate better," Wagstaffe said. He also said that any tortoises found to have diseases were placed in pens on Fort Irwin prior to the relocation.
The lawsuit also named the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees some of the land where the tortoises were moved, alleging it failed to conduct environmental reviews of the relocation. Stephen Razo, a BLM spokesman, said he couldn't comment on the lawsuit because the agency hasn't seen it.
Anderson said the agency should ban off-roading and treat the area as a tortoise reserve.
http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_tortoises03.4712177.html
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« Antwoord #8 Gepost op: 16 Juli 2008, 19:21:07 »

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« Antwoord #9 Gepost op: 19 Juli 2008, 23:42:42 »

Hoelang is die antenne wel?
Ziet er idd wat beangstigend uit voor deze holenbewoners  afvragend
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