Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title



The Gopher tortoise is considered a keystone species as they create burrows that house over 300 different species of wildlife and play a vital role in the pollination process via scat dispersal. Therefore, it is imperative to encourage recruitment and survival of Gopher tortoise populations. Unfortunately, Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) populations have declined significantly in the past hundred years. This decline is due to multiple factors including but not limited to; predation (animal and human consumption), habitat destruction (degradation, fragmentation, climate warming, sea-level rise), human activity (urban expansion, tree harvest, gasoline in burrows, and poor habitat management) and introduced diseases. The purpose of this project is to conduct a demographic survey on a 2-year cohort of 174 Gopher tortoise hatchlings marked with Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) tags and released during 2008-2009 at Reed Bingham State Park in Adel, Georgia. The survey will be limited to the Gopher Tortoise management area and Pioneer site at RBSP. A line sweep will be conducted on the areas all subadult and juvenile tortoise burrows and tortoises encountered will be recorded for data purposes. When encountered the Gopher Tortoise will be scanned for a PIT tag ID number and their weight, shell height, carapace width, and straight carapace length will be measured. Each recapture will have a record that includes the capture site's flag or tag, GPS coordinates, date, weather information, and time of day. PIT tag identification number would be recorded for both individual identification purposes and to evaluate the tag’s usage over time. Results of this survey could provide demographic information on growth and survivability of Gopher tortoises and evaluate the reliability and usage of Passive Integrated Transponders over time in population monitoring.​


​ Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The material from the Southwestern Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD-1817519. ​ Dr. J. Mitchell Lockhart , Biology Dept., Valdosta State University (Research Mentor)​ Nicole Woolridge (Undergraduate Student Collaborator )​ Park Management at Reed Bingham State Park, Adel, GA​ Georgia Department of Natural Resources

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