Short-term space-use patterns of translocated Mojave desert tortoise in southern California

Matthew L. Farnsworth, Brett G. Dickson, Luke J. Zachmann, Ericka E. Hegeman, Amanda R. Cangelosi, Thomas G. Jackson, Amanda F. Scheib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Increasingly, renewable energy comprises a larger share of global energy production. Across the western United States, public lands are being developed to support renewable energy production. Where there are conflicts with threatened or endangered species, trans-location can be used in an attempt to mitigate negative effects. For the threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), we sought to compare habitat- and space-use patterns between short-distance translocated, resident, and control groups. We tested for differences in home range size based on utilization distributions and used linear mixed-effects models to compare space-use intensity, while controlling for demographic and environmental variables. In addition, we examined mean movement distances as well as home range overlap between years and for male and female tortoises in each study group. During the first active season post-translocation, home range size was greater and space-use intensity was lower for translocated tortoises than resident and control groups. These patterns were not present in the second season. In both years, there was no difference in home range size or space-use intensity between control and resident groups. Translocation typically resulted in one active season of questing followed by a second active season characterized by space-use patterns that were indistinguishable from control tortoises. Across both years, the number of times a tortoise was found in a burrow was positively related to greater space-use intensity. Minimizing the time required for translocated tortoises to exhibit patterns similar to non-translocated individuals may have strong implications for conservation by reducing exposure to adverse environmental conditions and predation. With ongoing development, our results can be used to guide future efforts aimed at understanding how translocation strategies influence patterns of animal space use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0134250
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 9 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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