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Sample records for adult desert tortoises

  1. Three-year movement patterns of adult desert tortoises at Yucca Mountain

    SciTech Connect

    Holt, E.A.; Rautenstrauch, K.R.

    1995-12-31

    We studied the home-range size and site fidelity of adult desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, during 1992-1994. Of 67 adult tortoises monitored at Yucca Mountain during this period, we evaluated the movements of 22 female and 16 male radiomarked tortoises that were located >50 times during each of the 1992, 1993, and 1994 activity seasons. We measured annual and three-year home range sizes by either 100% minimum convex polygon (MCP) or by 95% cluster.

  2. Oxalosis in wild desert tortoises, Gopherus agassizii.

    PubMed

    Jacobson, Elliott R; Berry, Kristin H; Stacy, Brian; Huzella, Louis M; Kalasinsky, Victor F; Fleetwood, Michelle L; Mense, Mark G

    2009-10-01

    We necropsied a moribund, wild adult male desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) with clinical signs of respiratory disease and elevated plasma biochemical analytes indicative of renal disease (blood urea nitrogen [415 mg/dl], uric acid [11.8 mg/dl], sodium [>180 mmol/l] and chloride [139 mmol/l]). Moderate numbers of birefringent oxalate crystals, based on infrared and electron microscopy, were present within renal tubules; small numbers were seen in colloid within thyroid follicles. A retrospective analysis of 66 additional cases of wild desert tortoises was conducted to determine whether similar crystals were present in thyroid and kidney. The tortoises, from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, were necropsied between 1992 and 2003 and included juveniles and adults. Tortoises were classified as healthy (those that died due to trauma and where no disease was identified after necropsy and evaluation by standard laboratory tests used for other tortoises) or not healthy (having one or more diseases or lesions). For all 67 necropsied tortoises, small numbers of crystals of similar appearance were present in thyroid glands from 44 of 54 cases (81%) and in kidneys from three of 65 cases (5%). Presence of oxalates did not differ significantly between healthy and unhealthy tortoises, between age classes, or between desert region, and their presence was considered an incidental finding. Small numbers of oxalate crystals seen within the kidney of two additional tortoises also were considered an incidental finding. Although the source of the calcium oxalate could not be determined, desert tortoises are herbivores, and a plant origin seems most likely. Studies are needed to evaluate the oxalate content of plants consumed by desert tortoises, and particularly those in the area where the tortoise in renal failure was found. PMID:19901374

  3. Distance sampling for Sonoran Desert tortoises

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Swann, D.E.; Averill-Murray, R. C.; Schwalbe, C.R.

    2002-01-01

    We used line transects and distance sampling in combination with radiotelemetry to estimate density of a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) population in the Rincon Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, USA, as part of a long-term study evaluating the impact of urban development on tortoises. During 2000, 34 1-km transects were each sampled twice in the 368.5-ha study area. We observed 46 tortoises with midline carapace lengths ???150 mm (subadults and adults) plus 7 juveniles on transects. For subadults and adults, the encounter rate was 0.63 tortoises/km, and the mean proportion of tortoises observable during radiotelemetry, conducted concurrently with transect sampling, was 82%. Corrected mean density based on line transects and radiotelemetry was 0.523 tortoises/ha (CV = 22.99, 95% CI = 0.29-0.79), and absolute abundance in the study area was estimated to be 193 (CV = 23.0%, CI = 107-291). Using the 2 independent coverages of transects as separate samples, the Lincoln-Petersen mark-recapture estimator produced an abundance estimate of 224 subadult and adult tortoises (CV = 53.9%, CI = 72-440). Transects measured on the ground over uneven topography resulted in 3% smaller estimates of density when compared to analysis with transect lengths determined from coordinates plotted on a map. Distance sampling appears to be a feasible method of estimating density of Sonoran Desert populations of the desert tortoise, but transect lengths should be based on mapped rather than measured distances to prevent biases caused by uneven topography.

  4. Population pharmacokinetics of a single intramuscular administration of tulathromycin in adult desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii).

    PubMed

    Kinney, M E; Lamberski, N; Wack, R; Foster, R; Neely, M; Tell, L; Gehring, R

    2014-10-01

    Tulathromycin, a long acting macrolide antibiotic, has demonstrated efficacy against respiratory pathogens including Mycoplasma bovis and M. hyopneumoniae. A pharmacokinetic study was performed to evaluate the clinical applicability of tulathromycin in desert tortoises following a single intramuscular dose of 5 mg/kg. A single blood sample was collected from 110 different desert tortoises at 0.25, 0.5, 1, 4, 8, 24, 48, 72, 120, and 240 h following drug administration. Plasma concentrations of the parent form of tulathromycin were measured using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. As each tortoise was only bled once, pharmacokinetic parameters were initially estimated using a naïve pooled data approach. Given the variability in the data, population-based compartmental modeling was also performed. Using nonparametric population compartmental modeling, a two-compartment model with first-order absorption and elimination best fit the data. An observed Cmax of 36.2 ± 29.7 μg/mL was detected at 0.25 h (observed Tmax ). The elimination half-life (T½el ) was long (77.1 h) resulting in detectable plasma concentrations 240 h postadministration. This study represents a preliminary step in evaluating the utility of tulathromycin in chelonian species and demonstrates that population data modeling offers advantages for estimating pharmacokinetic parameters where sparse data sampling occurs and there is substantial variability in the data. PMID:24611596

  5. Serologic and molecular evidence for Testudinid herpesvirus 2 infection in wild Agassiz's desert tortoises, Gopherus agassizii.

    PubMed

    Jacobson, Elliott R; Berry, Kristin H; Wellehan, James F X; Origgi, Francesco; Childress, April L; Braun, Josephine; Schrenzel, Mark; Yee, Julie; Rideout, Bruce

    2012-07-01

    Following field observations of wild Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) with oral lesions similar to those seen in captive tortoises with herpesvirus infection, we measured the prevalence of antibodies to Testudinid herpesvirus (TeHV) 3 in wild populations of desert tortoises in California. The survey revealed 30.9% antibody prevalence. In 2009 and 2010, two wild adult male desert tortoises, with gross lesions consistent with trauma and puncture wounds, respectively, were necropsied. Tortoise 1 was from the central Mojave Desert and tortoise 2 was from the northeastern Mojave Desert. We extracted DNA from the tongue of tortoise 1 and from the tongue and nasal mucosa of tortoise 2. Sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products of the herpesviral DNA-dependent DNA polymerase gene and the UL39 gene respectively showed 100% nucleotide identity with TeHV2, which was previously detected in an ill captive desert tortoise in California. Although several cases of herpesvirus infection have been described in captive desert tortoises, our findings represent the first conclusive molecular evidence of TeHV2 infection in wild desert tortoises. The serologic findings support cross-reactivity between TeHV2 and TeHV3. Further studies to determine the ecology, prevalence, and clinical significance of this virus in tortoise populations are needed. PMID:22740541

  6. The Desert Tortoise: A Delicate Balance

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1992-01-01

    This award winning program looks at the efforts to preserve the desert tortoise in and around the Edwards Air Force Base, CA area. It also explains what people should do if they come in contact with a tortoise. This video was produced in cooperation with Edwards Air Force Base.

  7. Desert tortoise use of burned habitat in the Eastern Mojave desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Drake, Karla K.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; DeFalco, Lesley; Scoles, Sara; Modlin, Andrew T.; Medica, Philip A.

    2015-01-01

    Wildfires burned 24,254 ha of critical habitat designated for the recovery of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in southern Nevada during 2005. The proliferation of non-native annual grasses has increased wildfire frequency and extent in recent decades and continues to accelerate the conversion of tortoise habitat across the Mojave Desert. Immediate changes to vegetation are expected to reduce quality of critical habitat, yet whether tortoises will use burned and recovering habitat differently from intact unburned habitat is unknown. We compared movement patterns, home-range size, behavior, microhabitat use, reproduction, and survival for adult desert tortoises located in, and adjacent to, burned habitat to understand how tortoises respond to recovering burned habitat. Approximately 45% of home ranges in the post-fire environment contained burned habitat, and numerous observations (n = 12,223) corroborated tortoise use of both habitat types (52% unburned, 48% burned). Tortoises moved progressively deeper into burned habitat during the first 5 years following the fire, frequently foraging in burned habitats that had abundant annual plants, and returning to adjacent unburned habitat for cover provided by intact perennial vegetation. However, by years 6 and 7, the live cover of the short-lived herbaceous perennial desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) that typically re-colonizes burned areas declined, resulting in a contraction of tortoise movements from the burned areas. Health and egg production were similar between burned and unburned areas indicating that tortoises were able to acquire necessary resources using both areas. This study documents that adult Mojave desert tortoises continue to use habitat burned once by wildfire. Thus, continued management of this burned habitat may contribute toward the recovery of the species in the face of many sources of habitat loss.

  8. Attributes of desert tortoise populations at the National Training Center, Central Mojave Desert, California, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, K.H.; Bailey, T.Y.; Anderson, K.M.

    2006-01-01

    We sampled 21 study plots for desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. Each plot was sampled once between 1997 and 2003 to obtain a snapshot of population attributes, status, and relationships between tortoise densities and human activities. Densities ranged from <1 to 28 tortoises km-2; overall, tortoises were uncommon to rare at 16 of the 21 plots. Tortoise densities were negatively correlated with death rates, infectious disease (mycoplasmosis), surface disturbance and trash. Health status of tortoises was correlated with some anthropogenic uses. The presence of infectious disease in tortoises was negatively correlated with distances from offices, the Ft. Irwin cantonment, and paved roads. Also, significantly more tortoises with shell disease were found on plots with current and recent military use than on plots with no history of military use. Factors contributing to or causing deaths of tortoises included vehicles, vandalism, predation, mycoplasmosis and shell diseases. Annual death rates for subadult and adult tortoises ranged from 1.9% to 95.2% for the 4 years preceding surveys. Deaths from anthropogenic sources were significantly correlated with surface disturbances, trash, military ordnance, and proximity to offices and paved roads-typical characteristics of military training areas.

  9. Elevation Derivatives for Mojave Desert Tortoise Habitat

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Wallace, Cynthia S.A.; Gass, Leila

    2008-01-01

    This report describes the methods used to derive various elevation-derivative grids that were inputted to the Mojave Desert Tortoise Habitat model (L. Gass and others, unpub. data). These grids, which capture information on surface roughness and topographic characteristics, are a subset of the environmental datasets evaluated for the tortoise habitat model. This habitat model is of major importance to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged with management of this threatened population, including relocating displaced tortoises to areas identified as suitable habitat.

  10. Serologic and molecular evidence for testudinid herpesvirus 2 infection in wild Agassiz’s desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jacobson, Elliott R.; Berry, Kristin H.; Wellehan, James F. X., Jr.; Origgi, Francesco; Childress, April L.; Braun, Josephine; Schrenzel, Mark; Yee, Julie; Rideout, Bruce

    2012-01-01

    Following field observations of wild Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) with oral lesions similar to those seen in captive tortoises with herpesvirus infection, we measured the prevalence of antibodies to Testudinid herpesvirus (TeHV) 3 in wild populations of desert tortoises in California. The survey revealed 30.9% antibody prevalence. In 2009 and 2010, two wild adult male desert tortoises, with gross lesions consistent with trauma and puncture wounds, respectively, were necropsied. Tortoise 1 was from the central Mojave Desert and tortoise 2 was from the northeastern Mojave Desert. We extracted DNA from the tongue of tortoise 1 and from the tongue and nasal mucosa of tortoise 2. Sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products of the herpesviral DNA-dependent DNA polymerase gene and the UL39 gene respectively showed 100% nucleotide identity with TeHV2, which was previously detected in an ill captive desert tortoise in California. Although several cases of herpesvirus infection have been described in captive desert tortoises, our findings represent the first conclusive molecular evidence of TeHV2 infection in wild desert tortoises. The serologic findings support cross-reactivity between TeHV2 and TeHV3. Further studies to determine the ecology, prevalence, and clinical significance of this virus in tortoise populations are needed.

  11. Gopherus agassizii (desert tortoise) and Crotalus ruber (red diamond rattlesnake). Burrow co-occupancy

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lovich, Jeffrey E.

    2011-01-01

    I observed an adult Desert Tortoise and an adult Red Diamond Rattlesnake (sexes unknown) in a shallow tortoise burrow on 6 January 1997 at a wind energy generation facility near Palm Springs, Riverside Co., California, USA (33.9599°N, 116.6613°W).

  12. Gopherus agassizii (desert tortoise). Burrow collapse

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Loughran, Caleb L.; Ennen, Joshua; Lovich, Jeffrey E.

    2011-01-01

    In the deserts of the southwestern U.S., burrows are utilized by the Desert Tortoise to escape environmental extremes (reviewed by Ernst and Lovich 2009. Turtles of the United States and Canada. 2nd ed. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, Maryland. 827 pp.). However, the potential for mortality through burrow collapse and entrapment is poorly documented. Nicholson and Humphreys (1981. Proceedings of the Desert Tortoise Council, pp. 163−194) suggested that collapse due to livestock trampling may cause mortality. In addition, Lovich et al. (2011. Chelon. Cons. Biol. 10[1]:124–129) documented a Desert Tortoise that used a steel culvert as a burrow surrogate. The culvert filled completely with sediment following a significant rain event, entombing the animal and ultimately resulting in its death. We note that this mortality was associated with an anthropogenic structure; because tortoises are prodigious diggers, one might hypothesize that they have the ability to dig out of collapsed natural burrows in most situations. Circumstances described here presented us with an opportunity to test this hypothesis.

  13. Modeling Agassiz's Desert Tortoise Population Response to Anthropogenic Stressors

    EPA Science Inventory

    Mojave Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) populations are exposed to a variety of anthropogenic threats, which vary in nature, severity, and frequency. Tortoise management in conservation areas can be compromised when the relative importance of these threats is not well underst...

  14. Desert tortoise hibernation: Temperatures, timing, and environment

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, K.E.; Esque, T.C.; Haines, D.F.; Tracy, C.R.

    2007-01-01

    This research examined the onset, duration, and termination of hibernation in Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) over several years at multiple sites in the northeastern part of their geographic range, and recorded the temperatures experienced by tortoises during winter hibernation. The timing of hibernation by Desert Tortoises differed among sites and years. Environmental cues acting over the short-term did not appear to influence the timing of the hibernation period. Different individual tortoises entered hibernation over as many as 44 days in the fall and emerged from hibernation over as many as 49 days in the spring. This range of variation in the timing of hibernation indicates a weak influence at best of exogenous cues hypothesized to trigger and terminate hibernation. There do appear to be regional trends in hibernation behavior as hibernation tended to begin earlier and continue longer at sites that were higher in elevation and generally cooler. The emergence date was generally more similar among study sites than the date of onset. While the climate and the subsequent timing of hibernation differed among sites, the average temperatures experienced by tortoises while hibernating differed by only about five degrees from the coldest site to the warmest site. ?? 2007 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

  15. Multiple factors affect a population of Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in the Northwestern Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, Kristin H.; Yee, Julie L.; Coble, Ashley A.; Perry, William M.; Shields, Timothy A.

    2013-01-01

    Numerous factors have contributed to declines in populations of the federally threatened Agassiz's Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and continue to limit recovery. In 2010, we surveyed a low-density population on a military test facility in the northwestern Mojave Desert of California, USA, to evaluate population status and identify potential factors contributing to distribution and low densities. Estimated densities of live tortoises ranged spatially from 1.2/km2 to 15.1/km2. Although only one death of a breeding-age tortoise was recorded for the 4-yr period prior to the survey, remains of 16 juvenile and immature tortoises were found, and most showed signs of predation by Common Ravens (Corvus corax) and mammals. Predation may have limited recruitment of young tortoises into the adult size classes. To evaluate the relative importance of different types of impacts to tortoises, we developed predictive models for spatially explicit densities of tortoise sign and live tortoises using topography (i.e., slope), predators (Common Raven, signs of mammalian predators), and anthropogenic impacts (distances from paved road and denuded areas, density of ordnance fragments) as covariates. Models suggest that densities of tortoise sign increased with slope and signs of mammalian predators and decreased with Common Ravens, while also varying based on interaction effects involving these predictors as well as distances from paved roads, denuded areas, and ordnance. Similarly, densities of live tortoises varied by interaction effects among distances to denuded areas and paved roads, density of ordnance fragments, and slope. Thus multiple factors predict the densities and distribution of this population.

  16. Nelson's big horn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) trample Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) burrow at a California wind energy facility

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Agha, Mickey; Delaney, David F.; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Briggs, Jessica; Austin, Meaghan; Price, Steven J.

    2015-01-01

    Research on interactions between Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) and ungulates has focused exclusively on the effects of livestock grazing on tortoises and their habitat (Oldemeyer, 1994). For example, during a 1980 study in San Bernardino County, California, 164 desert tortoise burrows were assessed for vulnerability to trampling by domestic sheep (Ovis aries). Herds of grazing sheep damaged 10% and destroyed 4% of the burrows (Nicholson and Humphreys 1981). In addition, a juvenile desert tortoise was trapped and an adult male was blocked from entering a burrow due to trampling by domestic sheep. Another study found that domestic cattle (Bos taurus) trampled active desert tortoise burrows and vegetation surrounding burrows (Avery and Neibergs 1997). Trampling also has negative impacts on diversity of vegetation and intershrub soil crusts in the desert southwest (Webb and Stielstra 1979). Trampling of important food plants and overgrazing has the potential to create competition between desert tortoises and domestic livestock (Berry 1978; Coombs 1979; Webb and Stielstra 1979).

  17. Are wildlife detector dogs or people better at finding Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii)?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, K.E.; Esque, T.C.; Heaton, J.S.; Cablk, M.E.; Drake, K.K.; Valentin, C.; Yee, J.L.; Medica, P.A.

    2008-01-01

    Our ability to study threatened and endangered species depends on locating them readily in the field. Recent studies highlight the effectiveness of trained detector dogs to locate wildlife during field surveys, including Desert Tortoises in a semi-natural setting. Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) are cryptic and difficult to detect during surveys, especially the smaller size classes. We conducted comparative surveys to determine whether human or detector dog teams were more effective at locating Desert Tortoises in the wild. We compared detectability of Desert Tortoises and the costs to deploy human and dog search teams. Detectability of tortoises was not statistically different for either team, and was estimated to be approximately 70% (SE = 5%). Dogs found a greater proportion of tortoises located in vegetation than did humans. The dog teams finished surveys 2.5 hours faster than the humans on average each day. The human team cost was approximately $3,000 less per square kilometer sampled. Dog teams provided a quick and effective method for surveying for adult Desert Tortoises; however, we were unable to determine-their effectiveness at locating smaller size classes. Detection of smaller size classes during surveys would improve management of the species and should be addressed by future research using Desert Tortoise detector dogs.

  18. Integrating Gene Transcription-Based Biomarkers to Understand Desert Tortoise and Ecosystem Health.

    PubMed

    Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A Keith; Drake, K Kristina; Waters, Shannon C; Esque, Todd C; Nussear, Kenneth E

    2015-09-01

    Tortoises are susceptible to a wide variety of environmental stressors, and the influence of human disturbances on health and survival of tortoises is difficult to detect. As an addition to current diagnostic methods for desert tortoises, we have developed the first leukocyte gene transcription biomarker panel for the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), enhancing the ability to identify specific environmental conditions potentially linked to declining animal health. Blood leukocyte transcript profiles have the potential to identify physiologically stressed animals in lieu of clinical signs. For desert tortoises, the gene transcript profile included a combination of immune or detoxification response genes with the potential to be modified by biological or physical injury and consequently provide information on the type and magnitude of stressors present in the animal's habitat. Blood from 64 wild adult tortoises at three sites in Clark County, NV, and San Bernardino, CA, and from 19 captive tortoises in Clark County, NV, was collected and evaluated for genes indicative of physiological status. Statistical analysis using a priori groupings indicated significant differences among groups for several genes, while multidimensional scaling and cluster analyses of transcription C T values indicated strong differentiation of a large cluster and multiple outlying individual tortoises or small clusters in multidimensional space. These analyses highlight the effectiveness of the gene panel at detecting environmental perturbations as well as providing guidance in determining the health of the desert tortoise. PMID:25561383

  19. Integrating gene transcription-based biomarkers to understand desert tortoise and ecosystem health

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Drake, Karla K.; Waters, Shannon C.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Kenneth E.

    2015-01-01

    Tortoises are susceptible to a wide variety of environmental stressors, and the influence of human disturbances on health and survival of tortoises is difficult to detect. As an addition to current diagnostic methods for desert tortoises, we have developed the first leukocyte gene transcription biomarker panel for the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), enhancing the ability to identify specific environmental conditions potentially linked to declining animal health. Blood leukocyte transcript profiles have the potential to identify physiologically stressed animals in lieu of clinical signs. For desert tortoises, the gene transcript profile included a combination of immune or detoxification response genes with the potential to be modified by biological or physical injury and consequently provide information on the type and magnitude of stressors present in the animal’s habitat. Blood from 64 wild adult tortoises at three sites in Clark County, NV, and San Bernardino, CA, and from 19 captive tortoises in Clark County, NV, was collected and evaluated for genes indicative of physiological status. Statistical analysis using a priori groupings indicated significant differences among groups for several genes, while multidimensional scaling and cluster analyses of transcriptionC T values indicated strong differentiation of a large cluster and multiple outlying individual tortoises or small clusters in multidimensional space. These analyses highlight the effectiveness of the gene panel at detecting environmental perturbations as well as providing guidance in determining the health of the desert tortoise.

  20. Desert tortoise annotated bibliography, 1991-2015

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, Kristin H.; Lyren, Lisa M.; Mack, Jeremy S.; Brand, L. Arriana; Wood, Dustin A.

    2016-01-01

    Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise (hereinafter called desert tortoise) is a state- and federally-listed threatened species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1990; California Department of Fish and Game, 2015). The first population federally listed as threatened occurred on the Beaver Dam Slope, Utah (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1980). In 1990, the entire geographic range north and west of the Colorado River was federally listed as threatened (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1990), with the exception being a small population in northwestern Arizona. The purpose of this annotated bibliography is to support recovery efforts for the species, because populations have continued to decline in spite of designation of critical habitat and publication of a recovery plan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994). For example, between 2005 and 2014, populations in critical habitats declined about 50% (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015).

  1. Mycoplasma testudineum in free-ranging desert tortoises, Gopherus agassizii

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jacobson, Elliott R.; Berry, Kristin H.

    2012-01-01

    We performed clinico-pathological evaluations of 11 wild Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) from a translocation project in the central Mojave Desert, California, USA. Group 1 consisted of nine tortoises that were selected primarily due to serologic status, indicating exposure to Mycoplasma testudineum (seven) or both M. agassizii and M. testudineum (two), and secondarily due to clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD). Group 2 consisted of two tortoises that were antibody-negative for Mycoplasma and had no clinical signs of URTD, but did have other signs of illness. Of the Group 1 tortoises, M. testudineum, but not M. agassizii, was amplified by polymerase chain reaction and DNA fingerprinted from two tortoises. Using light microscopy, mild to severe pathologic changes were observed in one or more histologic sections of either one or both nasal cavities of each tortoise in Group 1. Our findings support a causal relationship between M. testudineum and URTD in desert tortoises.

  2. Mycoplasma testudineum in free-ranging desert tortoises, Gopherus agassizii.

    PubMed

    Jacobson, Elliott R; Berry, Kristin H

    2012-10-01

    We performed clinico-pathological evaluations of 11 wild Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) from a translocation project in the central Mojave Desert, California, USA. Group 1 consisted of nine tortoises that were selected primarily due to serologic status, indicating exposure to Mycoplasma testudineum (seven) or both M. agassizii and M. testudineum (two), and secondarily due to clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD). Group 2 consisted of two tortoises that were antibody-negative for Mycoplasma and had no clinical signs of URTD, but did have other signs of illness. Of the Group 1 tortoises, M. testudineum, but not M. agassizii, was amplified by polymerase chain reaction and DNA fingerprinted from two tortoises. Using light microscopy, mild to severe pathologic changes were observed in one or more histologic sections of either one or both nasal cavities of each tortoise in Group 1. Our findings support a causal relationship between M. testudineum and URTD in desert tortoises. PMID:23060510

  3. Range and habitats of the desert tortoise

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Germano, D.J.; Bury, R.B.; Esque, T.C.; Fritts, T.H.

    1994-01-01

    We determined the current range of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) based on the available latest data from government agencies, the literature, and our experience. We developed the first detailed range map of this species and summarized information about habitat preferences. New records of occurrences were incorporated, and some peripheral localities of questionable authenticity were deleted. The distribution oCG. agassizii covers the broadest range of latitude, climatic regimes, habitats, and biotic regions of any North American tortoise. The northern portion ofits range is in the Mojave Desert of sDuth"eastern California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and northwestern Arizona. The central portion of the range consists of several subdivisions of the Sonaran Desert in southeastern California, western and southern Arizona, and western Sonora, Mexico. The southern edge of its range is in the semitropical Sinaloan thornscrub and Sinaloan deciduous forest of eastern Sonora and northern Sinaloa, Mexico. This species has marked geogi-aphic differences but seems to construct burrows throughout its range.

  4. Does translocation influence physiological stress in the desert tortoise?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Drake, K.K.; Nussear, K.E.; Esque, T.C.; Barber, A.M.; Vittum, K.M.; Medica, P.A.; Tracy, C.R.; Hunter, K.W.

    2012-01-01

    Wildlife translocation is increasingly used to mitigate disturbances to animals or habitat due to human activities, yet little is known about the extent to which translocating animals causes stress. To understand the relationship between physiological stress and translocation, we conducted a multiyear study (2007–2009) using a population of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) near Fort Irwin, California. Blood samples were collected from adult tortoises in three treatment groups (resident, translocated and control) for 1 year prior to and 2 years after translocation. Samples were analyzed by radioimmunoassay for plasma total corticosterone (CORT), a glucocorticoid hormone commonly associated with stress responses in reptiles. CORT values were analyzed in relation to potential covariates (animal sex, date, behavior, treatment, handling time, air temperature, home-range size, precipitation and annual plant production) among seasons and years. CORT values in males were higher than in females, and values for both varied monthly throughout the activity season and among years. Year and sex were strong predictors of CORT, and translocation explained little in terms of CORT. Based on these results, we conclude that translocation does not elicit a physiological stress response in desert tortoises.

  5. Field trials of line transect methods applied to estimation of desert tortoise abundance

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Anderson, David R.; Burnham, Kenneth P.; Lubow, Bruce C.; Thomas, L. E. N.; Corn, Paul Stephen; Medica, Philip A.; Marlow, R.W.

    2001-01-01

    We examine the degree to which field observers can meet the assumptions underlying line transect sampling to monitor populations of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). We present the results of 2 field trials using artificial tortoise models in 3 size classes. The trials were conducted on 2 occasions on an area south of Las Vegas, Nevada, where the density of the test population was known. In the first trials, conducted largely by experienced biologists who had been involved in tortoise surveys for many years, the density of adult tortoise models was well estimated (-3.9% bias), while the bias was higher (-20%) for subadult tortoise models. The bias for combined data was -12.0%. The bias was largely attributed to the failure to detect all tortoise models on or near the transect centerline. The second trials were conducted with a group of largely inexperienced student volunteers and used somewhat different searching methods, and the results were similar to the first trials. Estimated combined density of subadult and adult tortoise models had a negative bias (-7.3%), again attributable to failure to detect some models on or near the centerline. Experience in desert tortoise biology, either comparing the first and second trials or in the second trial with 2 experienced biologists versus 16 novices, did not have an apparent effect on the quality of the data or the accuracy of the estimates. Observer training, specific to line transect sampling, and field testing are important components of a reliable survey. Line transect sampling represents a viable method for large-scale monitoring of populations of desert tortoise; however, field protocol must be improved to assure the key assumptions are met.

  6. Mycoplasma agassizii in Morafka's desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) in Mexico

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, Kristin H.; Brown, Mary B.; Vaughn, Mercy; Gowan, Timothy A.; Hasskamp, Mary Ann; Torres, Ma. Cristina Melendez

    2015-01-01

    We conducted health evaluations of 69 wild and 22 captive Morafka's desert tortoises (Gopherus morafkai) in Mexico between 2005 and 2008. The wild tortoises were from 11 sites in the states of Sonora and Sinaloa, and the captive tortoises were from the state-managed Centro Ecológico de Sonora Zoo in Hermosillo and a private residence in the town of Alamos. We tested 88 tortoises for mycoplasmal upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for specific antibody and by culture and PCR for detection of Mycoplasma agassizii and Mycoplasma testudineum. Fifteen of 22 captive tortoises had one or more positive diagnostic test results for M. agassizii whereas no wild tortoises had positive tests. Tortoises with positive tests also had significantly more moderate and severe clinical signs of mycoplasmosis on beaks and nares compared to tortoises with negative tests. Captive tortoises also exhibited significantly more clinical signs of illness than did wild tortoises, including lethargy and moderate to severe ocular signs. The severity of trauma and diseases of the shell and integument did not differ significantly among tortoises by site; however, clinical signs of moderate to severe trauma and disease were more prevalent in older tortoises. Similar to research findings for other species in the genus Gopherusin the US, we found that URTD is an important disease in captive tortoises. If they escape or are released by intention or accident to the wild, captive tortoises are likely to pose risks to healthy, naïve wild populations.

  7. Climatic variation and tortoise survival: has a desert species met its match?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Freilich, Jerry; Agha, Mickey; Austin, Meaghan; Meyer, Katherine P.; Arundel, Terence R.; Hansen, Jered; Vamstad, Michael S.; Root, Stephanie A.

    2014-01-01

    While demographic changes in short-lived species may be observed relatively quickly in response to climate changes, measuring population responses of long-lived species requires long-term studies that are not always available. We analyzed data from a population of threatened Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) at a 2.59 km2 study plot in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem of Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA from 1978 to 2012 to examine variation in apparent survival and demography in this long-lived species. Transect-based, mark-recapture surveys were conducted in 10 of those years to locate living and dead tortoises. Previous modeling suggested that this area would become unsuitable as tortoise habitat under a warming and drying climate scenario. Estimated adult population size declined greatly from 1996 to 2012. The population appeared to have high apparent survival from 1978 to 1996 but apparent survival decreased from 1997 to 2002, concurrent with persistent drought. The best model relating apparent survivorship of tortoises ≥18 cm over time was based on a three year moving average of estimated winter precipitation. The postures and positions of a majority of dead tortoises found in 2012 were consistent with death by dehydration and starvation. Some live and many dead tortoises found in 2012 showed signs of predation or scavenging by mammalian carnivores. Coyote (Canis latrans) scats and other evidence from the site confirmed their role as tortoise predators and scavengers. Predation rates may be exacerbated by drought if carnivores switch from preferred mammalian prey to tortoises during dry years. Climate modeling suggests that the region will be subjected to even longer duration droughts in the future and that the plot may become unsuitable for continued tortoise survival. Our results showing wide fluctuations in apparent survival and decreasing tortoise density over time may be early signals of that possible outcome.

  8. Enhancing and restoring habitat for the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Abella, Scott R.; Berry, Kristin H.

    2016-01-01

    Habitat has changed unfavorably during the past 150 years for the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a threatened species with declining populations in the Mojave and western Sonoran Desert. To support recovery efforts, we synthesized published information on relationships of desert tortoises with three habitat features (cover sites, forage, and soil) and candidate management practices for improving these features for tortoises. In addition to their role in soil health and facilitating recruitment of annual forage plants, shrubs are used by desert tortoises for cover and as sites for burrows. Outplanting greenhouse-grown seedlings, protected from herbivory, has successfully restored (>50% survival) a variety of shrubs on disturbed desert soils. Additionally, salvaging and re-applying topsoil using effective techniques is among the more ecologically beneficial ways to initiate plant recovery after severe disturbance. Some plant species provide better-quality forage than others. Tortoises selectively forage on particular annual and herbaceous perennial species, such as legumes, with favored plants varying with phenological stage within years. Non-native grasses are non-preferred forage and contribute fuel to spreading wildfires, which damage or kill shrubs that tortoises use for cover. Maintaining a diverse "menu" of native annual forbs and decreasing non-native grasses are priorities for restoring most desert tortoise habitats. Reducing herbivory by non-native animals, carefully timing herbicide applications, and strategically augmenting annual forage plants via seeding show promise for improving tortoise forage quality. Roads, another disturbance, negatively affect habitat in numerous ways (e.g., compacting soil, altering hydrology). Techniques such as re-contouring road berms to reestablish drainage patterns, vertical mulching ("planting" dead plant material), and creating barriers to prevent trespasses can assist natural recovery on decommissioned backcountry

  9. Severe mortality of a population of threatened Agassiz’s desert tortoises: the American badger as a potential predator

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Emblidge, Patrick G.; Nussear, Ken E.; Esque, Todd C.; Aiello, Christina M.; Walde, Andrew D.

    2015-01-01

    In the Mojave Desert of the southwestern United States, adult Agassiz’s desert tortoises Gopherus agassizii typically experience high survival, but population declines associated with anthropogenic impacts led to their listing as a threatened Species under the US Endangered Species Act in 1990. Predation of adult tortoises is not often considered a significant threat as they are adapted to deter most predation attempts. Despite these adaptations, some populations have experienced elevated mortality attributed to predators, suggesting that predation pressure may occasionally increase. During the tortoise activity seasons of 2012 and 2013, we observed unsustainably high mortality in 1 of 4 populations of adult desert tortoises (22 and 84%, respectively) in the western Mojave Desert in the vicinity of Barstow, CA. Photographic evidence from trail cameras and examination of carcass condition suggest that American badgers Taxidea taxus— a sometimes cited but unconfirmed predator of adult tortoises — may have been responsible for some of the mortality observed. We discuss the American badger as a plausible predator of a local tortoise population, but recommend further investigation into these events and the impacts such mortality can have on tortoise persistence.

  10. Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) Are Selective Herbivores that Track the Flowering Phenology of Their Preferred Food Plants

    PubMed Central

    Jennings, W. Bryan; Berry, Kristin H.

    2015-01-01

    Previous studies of desert tortoise foraging ecology in the western Mojave Desert suggest that these animals are selective herbivores, which alter their diet according to the temporal availability of preferred food plants. These studies, however, did not estimate availability of potential food plants by taking into account the spatial and temporal variability in ephemeral plant abundance that occurs within the spring season. In this study, we observed 18 free-ranging adult tortoises take 35,388 bites during the spring foraging season. We also estimated the relative abundance of potential food plants by stratifying our sampling across different phenological periods of the 3-month long spring season and by different habitats and microhabitats. This methodology allowed us to conduct statistical tests comparing tortoise diet against plant abundance. Our results show that tortoises choose food plants non-randomly throughout the foraging season, a finding that corroborates the hypothesis that desert tortoises rely on key plants during different phenological periods of spring. Moreover, tortoises only consumed plants in a succulent state until the last few weeks of spring, at which time most annuals and herbaceous perennials had dried and most tortoises had ceased foraging. Many species of food plants—including several frequently eaten species—were not detected in our plant surveys, yet tortoises located these rare plants in their home ranges. Over 50% of bites consumed were in the group of undetected species. Interestingly, tortoises focused heavily on several leguminous species, which could be nutritious foods owing to their presumably high nitrogen contents. We suggest that herbaceous perennials, which were rare on our study area but represented ~30% of tortoise diet, may be important in sustaining tortoise populations during droughts when native annuals are absent. These findings highlight the vulnerability of desert tortoises to climate change if such changes

  11. Desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) are selective herbivores that track the flowering phenology of their preferred food plants.

    PubMed

    Jennings, W Bryan; Berry, Kristin H

    2015-01-01

    Previous studies of desert tortoise foraging ecology in the western Mojave Desert suggest that these animals are selective herbivores, which alter their diet according to the temporal availability of preferred food plants. These studies, however, did not estimate availability of potential food plants by taking into account the spatial and temporal variability in ephemeral plant abundance that occurs within the spring season. In this study, we observed 18 free-ranging adult tortoises take 35,388 bites during the spring foraging season. We also estimated the relative abundance of potential food plants by stratifying our sampling across different phenological periods of the 3-month long spring season and by different habitats and microhabitats. This methodology allowed us to conduct statistical tests comparing tortoise diet against plant abundance. Our results show that tortoises choose food plants non-randomly throughout the foraging season, a finding that corroborates the hypothesis that desert tortoises rely on key plants during different phenological periods of spring. Moreover, tortoises only consumed plants in a succulent state until the last few weeks of spring, at which time most annuals and herbaceous perennials had dried and most tortoises had ceased foraging. Many species of food plants--including several frequently eaten species--were not detected in our plant surveys, yet tortoises located these rare plants in their home ranges. Over 50% of bites consumed were in the group of undetected species. Interestingly, tortoises focused heavily on several leguminous species, which could be nutritious foods owing to their presumably high nitrogen contents. We suggest that herbaceous perennials, which were rare on our study area but represented ~30% of tortoise diet, may be important in sustaining tortoise populations during droughts when native annuals are absent. These findings highlight the vulnerability of desert tortoises to climate change if such changes alter

  12. Desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) are selective herbivores that track the flowering phenology of their preferred food plants

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jennings, Bryan W.; Berry, Kristin H.

    2015-01-01

    Previous studies of desert tortoise foraging ecology in the western Mojave Desert suggest that these animals are selective herbivores, which alter their diet according to the temporal availability of preferred food plants. These studies, however, did not estimate availability of potential food plants by taking into account the spatial and temporal variability in ephemeral plant abundance that occurs within the spring season. In this study, we observed 18 free-ranging adult tortoises take 35,388 bites during the spring foraging season. We also estimated the relative abundance of potential food plants by stratifying our sampling across different phenological periods of the 3-month long spring season and by different habitats and microhabitats. This methodology allowed us to conduct statistical tests comparing tortoise diet against plant abundance. Our results show that tortoises choose food plants non-randomly throughout the foraging season, a finding that corroborates the hypothesis that desert tortoises rely on key plants during different phenological periods of spring. Moreover, tortoises only consumed plants in a succulent state until the last few weeks of spring, at which time most annuals and herbaceous perennials had dried and most tortoises had ceased foraging. Many species of food plants—including several frequently eaten species—were not detected in our plant surveys, yet tortoises located these rare plants in their home ranges. Over 50% of bites consumed were in the group of undetected species. Interestingly, tortoises focused heavily on several leguminous species, which could be nutritious foods owing to their presumably high nitrogen contents. We suggest that herbaceous perennials, which were rare on our study area but represented ~30% of tortoise diet, may be important in sustaining tortoise populations during droughts when native annuals are absent. These findings highlight the vulnerability of desert tortoises to climate change if such changes

  13. Effects of desert wildfires on desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and other small vertebrates

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Esque, T.C.; Schwalbe, C.R.; DeFalco, L.A.; Duncan, R.B.; Hughes, T.J.

    2003-01-01

    We report the results of standardized surveys to determine the effects of wildfires on desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) and their habitats in the northeastern Mojave Desert and northeastern Sonoran Desert. Portions of 6 burned areas (118 to 1,750 ha) were examined for signs of mortality of vertebrates. Direct effects of fire in desert habitats included animal mortality and loss of vegetation cover. A range of 0 to 7 tortoises was encountered during surveys, and live tortoises were found on all transects. In addition to desert tortoises, only small (<1 kg) mammals and reptiles (11 taxa) were found dead on the study areas. We hypothesize that indirect effects of fire on desert habitats might result in changes in the composition of diets and loss of vegetation cover, resulting in an increase in predation and loss of protection from temperature extremes. These changes in habitat also might cause changes in vertebrate communities in burned areas.

  14. Distribution, habitat and habits of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in the eastern Mojave Desert

    SciTech Connect

    Esque, T.C.; Bury, R.B. ); Medica, P.A. )

    1990-01-01

    The desert tortoise is widely distributed across most of southern Nevada below 1500 meters elevation and then ranges northeast into the Arizona Strip and southwestern Utah. There are several large populations, but also many isolated groups of desert tortoises due to the rugged topography and, possibly, unsuitable soils. We suggest that the greatest threats to tortoises in the eastern Mojave Desert are with peripheral populations. Tortoises in the eastern Mojave Desert occupy a wide variety of habitats from flats and bajadas in lower elevation to rocky slopes bordering on blackbrush and juniper woodland. In winter they use shallow burrows near Las Vegas but frequent deep caves in the northeast edge of their range. Tortoises in all areas may occur in steep, rocky habitats. Climatic extremes are frequent in this region and rainfall can be spotty due to several major mountain ranges that cause rain shadows. Forage is highly variable and this species can be an opportunistic herbivore. 11 refs., 13 figs.

  15. Relative abundance of desert tortoises on the Nevada Test Site

    SciTech Connect

    Rautenstrauch, K.R.; O`Farrell, T.P.

    1993-12-31

    Seven hundred fifty-nine transects having a total length of 1,191 km were walked during 1981--1986 to determine the distribution and relative abundance of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) on the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The abundance of tortoises on NTS was low to very low relative to other populations in the Mojave Desert. Sign of tortoises was found from 880 to 1,570 m elevation and was more abundant above 1,200 m than has been reported previously for Nevada. Tortoises were more abundant on NTS on the upper alluvial fans and slopes of mountains than in valley bottoms. They also were more common on or near limestone and dolomite mountains than on mountains of volcanic origin.

  16. Can modeling improve estimation of desert tortoise population densities?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, K.E.; Tracy, C.R.

    2007-01-01

    The federally listed desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is currently monitored using distance sampling to estimate population densities. Distance sampling, as with many other techniques for estimating population density, assumes that it is possible to quantify the proportion of animals available to be counted in any census. Because desert tortoises spend much of their life in burrows, and the proportion of tortoises in burrows at any time can be extremely variable, this assumption is difficult to meet. This proportion of animals available to be counted is used as a correction factor (g0) in distance sampling and has been estimated from daily censuses of small populations of tortoises (6-12 individuals). These censuses are costly and produce imprecise estimates of g0 due to small sample sizes. We used data on tortoise activity from a large (N = 150) experimental population to model activity as a function of the biophysical attributes of the environment, but these models did not improve the precision of estimates from the focal populations. Thus, to evaluate how much of the variance in tortoise activity is apparently not predictable, we assessed whether activity on any particular day can predict activity on subsequent days with essentially identical environmental conditions. Tortoise activity was only weakly correlated on consecutive days, indicating that behavior was not repeatable or consistent among days with similar physical environments. ?? 2007 by the Ecological Society of America.

  17. Gopherus agassizii (Desert Tortoise). Non-native seed dispersal

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ennen, J.R.; Loughran, Caleb L.; Lovich, Jeffrey E.

    2011-01-01

    Sahara Mustard (Brassica tournefortii) is a non-native, highly invasive weed species of southwestern U.S. deserts. Sahara Mustard is a hardy species, which flourishes under many conditions including drought and in both disturbed and undisturbed habitats (West and Nabhan 2002. In B. Tellman [ed.], Invasive Plants: Their Occurrence and Possible Impact on the Central Gulf Coast of Sonora and the Midriff Islands in the Sea of Cortes, pp. 91–111. University of Arizona Press, Tucson). Because of this species’ ability to thrive in these habitats, B. tournefortii has been able to propagate throughout the southwestern United States establishing itself in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. Unfortunately, naturally disturbed areas created by native species, such as the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), within these deserts could have facilitated the propagation of B. tournefortii. (Lovich 1998. In R. G. Westbrooks [ed.], Invasive Plants, Changing the Landscape of America: Fact Book, p. 77. Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds [FICMNEW], Washington, DC). However, Desert Tortoises have never been directly observed dispersing Sahara Mustard seeds. Here we present observations of two Desert Tortoises dispersing Sahara Mustard seeds at the interface between the Mojave and Sonoran deserts in California.

  18. Gopherus Agassizii (Desert Tortoise). Predation/Mountain Lions (Pre-Print)

    SciTech Connect

    Paul D. Greger and Philip A. Medica

    2009-01-01

    During a long-term study on tortoise growth within 3 fenced 9-ha enclosures in Rock Valley, Nevada Test Site (NTS), Nye County, Nevada, USA, tortoises have been captured annually since 1964 (Medica et al. 1975. Copeia 1975:630-643; Turner et al. 1987. Copeia 1987:974-979). Between early August and mid October 2003 we observed a significant mortality event. The Rock Valley enclosures were constructed of 6 x 6 mm mesh 1.2 m wide hardware cloth, buried 0.3 m in the soil with deflective flashing on both sides on the top to restrict the movement of small mammals and lizards from entering or leaving the enclosures (Rundel and Gibson 1996, Ecological communities and process in a Mojave Desert ecosystem: Rock Valley, Nevada, Cambridge University Press, Great Britain. 369 pp.). On August 6, 2003, the carcass of an adult female Desert Tortoise No.1411 (carapace length 234 mm when alive) was collected while adult male tortoise No.4414 (carapace length 269 mm) was observed alive and in good health on the same day. Subsequently the carcass of No.4414 was found on October 16, 2003. Between October 16-17, 2003, the remains of 6 (5 adult and 1 juvenile) Desert Tortoises were found, some within each of the 3 enclosures in Rock Valley. A seventh adult tortoise was found on September 26, 2006, its death also attributed to the 2003 mortality event based upon the forensic evidence. Each of the 7 adult Desert Tortoises had the central portion of their carapace broken open approximately to the dorsal portion of the marginal scutes while the plastron was still intact (Figure 1A). Adjacent to 7 of the 8 remains we located numerous bone fragments including parts of the carapace and limbs as well as dried intestines in a nearby Range Rhatany (Krameria parvifolia) shrub. The significance of the frequent use of this shrub is puzzling. Three of the Desert Tortoise shell remains possessed distinctive intercanine punctures measuring 55-60 mm center to center indicating that this was an adult

  19. Single surgeon coelioscopic orchiectomy of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) for population management.

    PubMed

    Proença, L M; Fowler, S; Kleine, S; Quandt, J; Mullen, C O; Divers, S J

    2014-10-25

    Orchiectomy in chelonians is a challenging procedure, especially in large species with deep and elongated testes and extensive mesorchial attachments. Single surgeon coelioscopic orchiectomy was performed in seven adult desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), maintained at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) in Las Vegas, for population management. Surgery was successfully conducted through a bilateral prefemoral approach via sequential vascular clip ligation and radiosurgery (monopolar/bipolar). Bipolar endoscopic forceps were considered indispensable due to the extensive mesorchial attachments and their close association with the kidney. A mechanical arm was effectively used to permit orchiectomy to be completed by a single surgeon. Six of seven animals recovered from anaesthesia. Necropsy demonstrated that the death of the other was unrelated to surgical complications. One animal experienced surgically significant haemorrhage, but still made a clinical recovery. The six tortoises were returned to the DTCC and, six months postoperatively, remain healthy. This small study suggests this minimally invasive technique is an effective method for bilateral orchiectomy in desert tortoises and might be preferable in large chelonians with elongated testes. PMID:25015072

  20. Spatial organization of desert tortoises and their burrows at a landscape scale

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Duda, Jeffrey J.; Krzysik, Anthony J.; Meloche, Joel M.

    2001-01-01

    We thoroughly surveyed two 9 km 2 study plots using 624 km of transect lines in the south- central Mojave Desert, California, mapping with a precision global positioning system the location of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) and their burrows. We found 98 desert tortoises and 1463 tortoise burrows. Three separate geospatial methods (quadrat-variance, nearest neighbor, and 3 geospatial functions) confirmed that active and total desert tortoise burrows were aggregated on the landscape at multiple spatial scales. Desert tortoises also displayed an aggregated pattern, although results were not consistent between the two plots. We also found a significant positive association between desert tortoises and their burrows using Type II linear regression and Ripley's K 12(t) function. A strong positive association between active burrows/km 2 and tortoises/km2 (r2 = 0.88) and between total burrows/km2 and tortoises/km2 (r2 = 0.80) and the supporting results of Ripley's K 12(t) geospatial function suggest that, within a given year and locality, desert tortoise burrows can be used to determine relative desert tortoise density patterns.

  1. Effects of drought on desert tortoise movement and activity

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Duda, J.J.; Krzysik, A.J.; Freilich, J.E.

    1999-01-01

    We monitored movement and activity patterns of 38 desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) at 2 locations in the southcentral Mojave Desert during 2 consecutive years differing markedly in winter rainfall. During the first year, winter precipitation was 225% greater than the long-term average for this region, whereas a drought the following year resulted in precipitation that was 25% of the long-term average. These winter rains produced 2 distinct patterns of annual plant productivity: a bloom of annuals the first year, followed by their complete absence the second year. As measured by radiotelemetry, home range size, the number of different burrows used, average distances traveled per day, and levels of surface versus burrow activity were significantly reduced in both populations during the drought year. The pooled distribution of between-observation distances traveled showed a shift favoring shorter-distance movements during the drought year. Differences in levels of winter precipitation between years and the resulting variation of winter annual biomass in the spring appear to play a significant role in desert tortoise movement and activity patterns. Future management and conservation plans for the desert tortoise should consider weather and productivity as important factors influencing annual home range size, number of burrows used, average distances traveled, and activity levels.

  2. Polymorphic microsatellite markers for the Mojave desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii.

    PubMed

    Hagerty, B E; Peacock, M M; Kirchoff, V S; Tracy, C R

    2008-09-01

    We describe primers and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) conditions to amplify 14 tri- and tetranucleotide microsatellite loci for the Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Across three populations (87 individuals) located in the Mojave Desert, USA, the markers yielded a range of four to 33 alleles and an average observed heterozygosity of 0.733 (range 0.433 to 0.933). We neither detected linkage disequilibrium between any pair of loci nor did we find a consistent pattern of deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. These microsatellites are designed for PCR multiplexing, and provide higher throughput capacity to aid in conservation genetics studies for this threatened species. PMID:21585998

  3. Translocation as a conservation tool for Agassiz's desert tortoises: survivorship, reproduction, and movements

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, K.E.; Tracy, C.R.; Medica, P.A.; Wilson, D.S.; Marlow, R.W.; Corn, P.S.

    2012-01-01

    We translocated 120 Agassiz's desert tortoises to 5 sites in Nevada and Utah to evaluate the effects of translocation on tortoise survivorship, reproduction, and habitat use. Translocation sites included several elevations, and extended to sites with vegetation assemblages not typically associated with desert tortoises in order to explore the possibility of moving animals to upper elevation areas. We measured survivorship, reproduction, and movements of translocated and resident animals at each site. Survivorship was not significantly different between translocated and resident animals within and among sites, and survivorship was greater overall during non-drought years. The number of eggs produced by tortoises was similar for translocated and resident females, but differed among sites. Animals translocated to atypical habitat generally moved until they reached vegetation communities more typical of desert tortoise habitat. Even within typical tortoise habitat, tortoises tended to move greater distances in the first year after translocation than did residents, but their movements in the second or third year after translocation were indistinguishable from those of resident tortoises. Our data show that tortoises translocated into typical Mojave desert scrub habitats perform well; however, the large first-year movements of translocated tortoises have important management implications. Projects that employ translocations must consider how much area will be needed to contain translocated tortoises and whether roads need fencing to prevent the loss of animals.

  4. Mycoplasmosis in free-ranging desert tortoises in Utah and Arizona.

    PubMed

    Dickinson, Vanessa M; Schumacher, Isabella M; Jarchow, James L; Duck, Timothy; Schwalbe, Cecil R

    2005-10-01

    Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) has been associated with major losses of free-ranging desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in the southwestern United States. This prompted a clinical examination of 63 free-ranging desert tortoises for signs of URTD and sampling for Mycoplasma agassizii, the causative agent of URTD. Tortoises were sampled from three sites in the eastern Mojave Desert (1992-93), and from three sites in the Sonoran Desert (1992-94). Plasma samples were tested for antibodies to M. agassizii using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Nasal aspirate samples from 12 Sonoran tortoises were tested using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test directed at the 16S rRNA gene of M. agassizii. Nasal aspirate samples from all tortoises were cultured for M. agassizii. In the Mojave Desert, nine tortoises had clinical signs of URTD and eight were seropositive for M. agassizii. In the Sonoran Desert, there were no clinical signs of URTD, but two tortoises were seropositive, and two tortoises had positive PCR results. PMID:16456181

  5. Habitat drives dispersal and survival of translocated juvenile desert tortoises

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nafus, Melia G.; Esque, Todd; Averill-Murray, Roy C.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.

    2016-01-01

    5.Synthesis and applications. Resource managers using translocations as a conservation tool should prioritize acquiring data linking habitat to fitness. In particular, for species that depend on avoiding detection, refuges such as burrows and habitat that improved concealment had notable ability to improve survival and dispersal. Our study on juvenile Mojave desert tortoises showed that refuge availability or the distributions of habitat appropriate for concealment are important considerations for identifying translocation sites for species highly dependent on crypsis, camouflage, or other forms of habitat matching.

  6. Effects of climatic variation on field metabolism and water relations of desert tortoises

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Henen, B.T.; Peterson, C.C.; Wallis, I.R.; Berry, K.H.; Nagy, K.A.

    1998-01-01

    We used the doubly labeled water method to measure the field metabolic rates (FMRs, in kJ kg-1 day-1) and water flux rates (WIRs, in ml H2O kg-1 day-1) of adult desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in three parts of the Mojave Desert in California over a 3.5-year period, in order to develop insights into the physiological responses of this threatened species to climate variation among sites and years. FMR, WIR, and the water economy index (WEI, in ml H2O kJ-1, an indicator of drinking of free water) differed extensively among seasons, among study sites, between sexes, and among years. In high-rainfall years, males had higher FMRs than females. Average daily rates of energy and water use by desert tortoises were extraordinarily variable: 28-fold differences in FMR and 237-fold differences in WIR were measured. Some of this variation was due to seasonal conditions, with rates being low during cold winter months and higher in the warm seasons. However, much of the variation was due to responses to year-to-year variation in rainfall. Annual spring peaks in FMR and WIR were higher in wet years than in drought years. Site differences in seasonal patterns were apparently due to geographic differences in rainfall patterns (more summer rain at eastern Mojave sites). In spring 1992, during an El Nino (ENSO) event, the WEI was greater than the maximal value obtainable from consuming succulent vegetation, indicating copious drinking of rainwater at that time. The physiological and behavioral flexibility of desert tortoises, evident in individuals living at all three study sites, appears central to their ability to survive droughts and benefit from periods of resource abundance. The strong effects of the El Nino (ENSO) weather pattern on tortoise physiology, reproduction, and survival elucidated in this and other studies suggest that local manifestations of global climate events could have a long-term influence on the tortoise populations in the Mojave Desert.

  7. PCR primers for microsatellite loci in the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii, Testudinidae)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, T.; Goldberg, C.S.; Kaplan, M.E.; Schwalbe, C.R.; Swann, D.E.

    2003-01-01

    The desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, is a threatened species native to the North American desert southwest and is recognized as having distinct Mojave and Sonoran populations. We identified six polymorphic microsatellite loci in the desert tortoise. All six loci were polymorphic in Sonoran samples. Five of the loci were variable in Mojave samples with varying degrees of amplification success. Two of the loci exhibited low allelic variation (2-3 alleles) while four were highly variable (8-27 alleles).

  8. The northern boundary of the desert tortoise range on the Nevada Test Site

    SciTech Connect

    Rautenstrauch, K.R.; Brown, G.A.; Goodwin, R.G.

    1994-12-01

    A study was conducted in 1993 to more accurately define the northern boundary of the range of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) on the Nevada Test Site. Eighty-six transects totaling 338.2 km were walked along this boundary and 53 tortoise signs were recorded. Tortoise signs were found all along the northern edge of Jackass and Frenchman flats. Signs were found north of those valleys only in the Calico Hills at the south end of Topopah Valley and in the CP Hills at the extreme southern end of Yucca Flat. A revised map of the range of desert tortoises on NTS is presented. This information can be used by the US Department of Energy to determine whether activities conducted along or near this boundary will affect desert tortoises.

  9. Management and research of desert tortoises for the Yucca Mountain Project

    SciTech Connect

    Rautenstrauch, K.R.; Cox, M.K.; Doerr, T.B.; Green, R.A.; Mueller, J.M.; O`Farrell, T.P.; Rakestraw, D.L.

    1991-12-31

    A program has been developed for the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) to manage and study the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizi), a threatened species that occurs at low densities at Yucca Mountain. The goals of this program are to better understand the biology and status of the desert tortoise population at Yucca Mountain, assess impacts on tortoises of site characterization (SC) activities, and minimize those impacts. The first steps we took to develop this program were to compile the available information on the biology of tortoises at Yucca Mountain, ascertain what information was lacking, and identify the potential impacts on tortoises of SC. We then developed a technical design that can be used to identify and mitigate direct and cumulative impacts and provide information on tortoise biology. Interrelated studies were developed to achieve these objectives. The primary sampling unit for the impact monitoring studies is radiomarked tortoises. Three populations of tortoises will be sampled: Individuals isolated from disturbances (control), individuals near major SC activities (direct effects treatment and worst-case cumulative effects treatment), and individuals from throughout Yucca Mountain (cumulative effects treatment). Impacts will be studied by measuring and comparing survival, reproduction, movements, habitat use, health, and diet of these tortoises. A habitat quality model also will be developed and the efficacy of mitigation techniques, such as relocating tortoises, will be evaluated.

  10. Management and research of desert tortoises for the Yucca Mountain Project

    SciTech Connect

    Rautenstrauch, K.R.; Cox, M.K.; Doerr, T.B.; Green, R.A.; Mueller, J.M.; O`Farrell, T.P.; Rakestraw, D.L.

    1991-04-01

    A program has been developed for the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) to manage and study the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizi), a threatened species that occurs at low densities at Yucca Mountain. The goals of this program are to better understand the biology and status of the desert tortoise population at Yucca Mountain, assess impacts on tortoises of site characterization (SC) activities, and minimize those impacts. The first steps we took to develop this program were to compile the available information on tortoise biology at Yucca Mountain, ascertain what information was lacking, and identify the potential impacts on tortoises of SC. We then developed a technical design for identifying and mitigating direct and cumulative impacts and providing information on tortoise biology. Interrelated studies were developed to achieve these objectives. The primary sampling unit for the impact monitoring studies is radiomarked tortoises. Three populations of tortoises will be sampled: individuals isolated from disturbances (control), individuals near major SC activities (direct effects treatment and worst-case cumulative effects treatment), and individuals from throughout Yucca Mountain (cumulative effects treatment). Impacts will be studied by measuring and comparing survival, reproduction, movements, habitat use, health, and diet of these tortoises. A habitat quality model also will be developed and the efficacy of mitigation techniques, such as relocating tortoises, will be evaluated. 29 refs.

  11. Evaluation of evidence supporting the effectiveness of desert tortoise recovery actions

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Boarman, William I.; Kristan, William B.

    2006-01-01

    As a federally threatened species, the desert tortoise's (Gopherus agassizii) recovery is required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the criteria established by the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994) for delisting the tortoise from ESA protection, the species as a whole will be considered recovered when tortoises have exhibited a statistically significant upward trend for at least one tortoise generation (25 years), enough habitat is protected to allow persistence, provisions are in place to maintain discrete population growth rates at or above 1.0, regulatory measures are in place to ensure continued management of tortoise habitat, and there is no longer reason to believe that the species will require ESA protection in the future. Just as species extinction can be thought of as the cumulative extinction of all populations, species recovery can be thought of as recovery of constituent populations; management efforts for recovery generally are implemented and assessed at the population level. A recent review of the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan, including an exhaustive literature search, has been compiled by the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Assessment Committee (Tracy et al. 2004).

  12. Assessing age in the desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii: Testing skeletochronology with individuals of known age

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Curtin, A.J.; Zug, G.R.; Medica, P.A.; Spotila, J.R.

    2008-01-01

    Eight desert tortoises Gopherus agassizii from a long-term mark-recapture study in the Mojave Desert, Nevada, USA, afforded an opportunity to examine the accuracy of skeletochronological age estimation on tortoises from a seasonal, yet environmentally erratic environment. These 8 tortoises were marked as hatchlings or within the first 2 yr of life, and their carcasses were salvaged from predator kills. Using d blind protocol, 2 skeletochronological protocols (correction-factor and ranking) provided age estimates for a set of 4 bony elements (humerus, scapula, femur, ilium) from these tortoises of known age. The age at death of the tortoises ranged from 15 to 50 yr. The most accurate protocol - ranking using the growth layers within each of the 4 elements - provided estimates from 21 to 47 yr, with the highest accuracy from the ilia. The results indicate that skeletochronological age estimation provides a reasonably accurate method for assessing the age at death of desert tortoises and, if used with a large sample of individuals, will provide a valuable tool for examining age-related mortality parameters in desert tortoise and likely in other gopher tortoises (Gopherus). ?? Inter-Research 2008.

  13. The distribution and abundance of desert tortoises on the Nevada Test Site

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1991-01-01

    This report presents the results of transect studies conducted from 1981--1986 to determine the distribution and abundance of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) on the Nevada Test Site (NTS) and summarizes the current understanding of the distribution of this species on NTS. Seven hundred fifty-nine transect having a total length of 1,190.7 km were walked and 380 sign of tortoises were counted. The abundance of tortoises on NTS is low to very low relative to the other areas within this species' range. Tortoises appear to be more abundant on NTS on the bajadas and foothills of limestone and dolomite mountains than on mountains of volcanic origin. Sign of tortoises were found were 880 to 1600 m and sign was more abundant at higher elevations (>1200 m) than has been reported previously for Nevada. The scale of classification of vegetation associations available for NTS is too large to be useful for predicting tortoise abundance. Tortoises were found only in approximately the southern third of NTS. They probably do not occur in Yucca Flat or anywhere else north of the Control Point. A map of the northern boundary of the range of desert tortoises on NTS is presented and additional studies of the distribution and abundance of tortoises on NTS are recommended. 30 refs., 9 figs., 4 tabs.

  14. Comparison of intraosseous and peripheral venous fluid dynamics in the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

    PubMed

    Young, Benjamin D; Stegeman, Nadia; Norby, Bo; Heatley, J Jill

    2012-03-01

    The efficacy of intraosseous catheterization has not been described previously in the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). The goal of this study was to describe and compare the efficacy of four intraosseous catheter sites (humerus, femur, plastocarapacial junction [bridge], and gular region of the plastron) to jugular catheterization. Five adult tortoises were catheterized in each of the sites at least once. The distribution of a bolus injection of radiopharmaceutical (technetium-99m-diethylenetriaminepentaacidic acid [99mTc -DTPA]) was monitored via gamma camera over 2-min periods at five time intervals over 24 min. Compared to jugular catheterization, the humerus and femur sites provided the next best vascular access, with 84.4 and 61.8% of activity reaching the systemic circulation by 7 min, respectively. The bridge and gular catheter sites were less effective with only 41.9 and 40.8% systemic activity, respectively. Intraosseous catheters were no more technically difficult to place than jugular catheters and were less commonly dislodged, making them a viable option for vascular access in tortoises. PMID:22448510

  15. The relative abundance of desert tortoises on the Nevada Test Site within ecological landform units

    SciTech Connect

    Woodward, R.; Rautenstrauch, K.R.; Hall, D.B.; Ostler, W.K.

    1998-09-01

    Sign-survey transects were sampled in 1996 to better determine the relative abundance of desert tortoises on the Nevada Test Site (NTS). These transects were sampled within ecological land-form units (ELUs), which are small, ecologically homogeneous units of land. Two-hundred and six ELUs were sampled by walking 332 transects totaling 889 kilometers (km). These ELUs covered 528 km{sup 2}. Two-hundred and eight-one sign were counted. An average of 0.32 sign was found per km walked. Seventy percent of the area sampled had a very low abundance of tortoises, 29% had a low abundance, and 1% had a moderate abundance. A revised map of the relative abundance of desert tortoise on the NTS is presented. Within the 1,330 km{sup 2} of desert tortoise habitat on the NTS, 49% is classified as having no tortoises or a very low abundance, 18% has a low or moderate abundance, 12% is unclassified land being used by the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project, and the remaining 21% still has an unknown abundance of desert tortoises. Based on the results of this work, the amount of tortoise habitat previously classified as having an unknown or low-moderate abundance, and on which clearance surveys and on-site monitoring was required, has been reduced by 20%.

  16. The Relative Abundance of Desert Tortoises on the Nevada Test Site within Ecological Landform Units

    SciTech Connect

    Woodward, Roy; Rautenstrauch, Kurt R.; Hall, Derek B.; Ostler, W. Kent

    1998-09-01

    Sign-survey transects were sampled in 1996 to better determine the relative abundance of desert tortoises on the Nevada Test Site (NTS). These transects were sampled within ecological land-form units (ELUs), which are small, ecologically homogeneous units of land. Two-hundred and six ELUs were sampled by walking 332 transects totaling 889 kilometers (km) (552 miles [mi]). These ELUs covered 528 km{sup 2} (204 mi{sup 2}). Two-hundred and eighty-one sign were counted. An average of 0.32 sign was found per km walked. Seventy percent of the area sampled had a very low abundance of tortoises, 29 percent had a low abundance, and 1 percent had a moderate abundance. A revised map of the relative abundance of desert tortoise on the NTS is presented. Within the 1,330 km{sup 2} (514 mi{sup 2}) of desert tortoise habitat on the NTS, 49 percent is classified as having no tortoises or a very low abundance, 18 percent has a low or moderate abundance, 12 percent is unclassified land being used by the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project, and the remaining 21 percent still has an unknown abundance of desert tortoises. Based on the results of this work, the amount of tortoise habitat previously classified as having an unknown or low-moderate abundance, and on which clearance surveys and on-site monitoring was required, has been reduced by 20 percent.

  17. Distance to human populations influences epidemiology of respiratory disease in desert tortoises

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, Kristin H.; Ashley A. Coble (formerly Emerson), no longer USGS; Yee, Julie L.; Mack, Jeremy S.; Perry, William M.; Anderson, Kemp M.; Brown, Mary B.

    2014-01-01

    We explored variables likely to affect health of Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in a 1,183-km2 study area in the central Mojave Desert of California between 2005 and 2008. We evaluated 1,004 tortoises for prevalence and spatial distribution of 2 pathogens, Mycoplasma agassizii and M. testudineum, that cause upper respiratory tract disease. We defined tortoises as test-positive if they were positive by culture and/or DNA identification or positive or suspect for specific antibody for either of the two pathogens. We used covariates of habitat (vegetation, elevation, slope, and aspect), tortoise size and sex, distance from another test-positive tortoise, and anthropogenic variables (distances to roads, agricultural areas, playas, urban areas, and centroids of human-populated census blocks). We used both logistic regression models and regression trees to evaluate the 2 species of Mycoplasma separately. The prevalence of test-positive tortoises was low: 1.49% (15/1,004) for M. agassizii and 2.89% (29/1,004) for M. testudineum. The spatial distributions of test-positive tortoises for the 2 Mycoplasma species showed little overlap; only 2 tortoises were test-positive for both diseases. However, the spatial distributions did not differ statistically between the 2 species. We consistently found higher prevalence of test-positive tortoises with shorter distances to centroids of human-populated census blocks. The relationship between distance to human-populated census blocks and tortoises that are test-positive for M. agassizii and potentially M. testudineum may be related to release or escape of captive tortoises because the prevalence of M. agassizii in captive tortoises is high. Our findings have application to other species of chelonians where both domestic captive and wild populations exist. Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

  18. Western blot can distinguish natural and acquired antibodies to Mycoplasma agassizii in the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

    PubMed

    Hunter, Kenneth W; Dupré, Sally A; Sharp, Tiffanny; Sandmeier, Franziska C; Tracy, C Richard

    2008-12-01

    Mycoplasma agassizi has been identified as a cause of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in the threatened Mojave population of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), and anti-M. agassizii antibodies have been found by ELISA in as many as 15% of these animals across their geographic range. Here we report that a cohort of 16 egg-reared desert tortoises never exposed to M. agassizii had ELISA antibody titers to this organism that overlapped with titers obtained from some M. agassizii-infected tortoises. These natural antibodies were predominantly of the IgM class. Western blots of plasma from these non-infected tortoises produced a characteristic banding pattern against M. agassizii antigens. A group of 38 wild-caught desert tortoises was tested by ELISA, and although some of these tortoises had antibody titers significantly higher than the non-infected tortoises, there was considerable overlap at the lower titer levels. However, Western blot analysis revealed distinct banding patterns that could readily distinguish between the non-infected tortoises and tortoises with acquired antibodies, regardless of ELISA antibody titers. We conclude that desert tortoises have natural antibodies to M. agassizii that can compromise the determination of infection status by ELISA. However, the Western blot technique can distinguish between natural and acquired antibody patterns and can be used to confirm the diagnosis of M. agassizii infections in the desert tortoise. PMID:18708096

  19. Return to the wild: Translocation as a tool in conservation of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Field, K.J.; Tracy, C.R.; Medica, P.A.; Marlow, R.W.; Corn, P.S.

    2007-01-01

    Translocation could be used as a tool in conservation of the threatened Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) by moving individuals from harm's way and into areas where they could contribute to conservation of the species. Numerous factors may affect the success of translocations, including the conditions experienced by tortoises in holding facilities while awaiting translocation. The tortoises available for our translocation study had been provided supplemental water during their years spent in a captive holding facility, potentially inducing carelessness in water conservation. In addition to generally investigating the efficacy of translocation, we compared the effects of continuing with the effects of ceasing the holding facility's water supplementation regimen. After exposure to one of the two water regimens, all tortoises were given the opportunity to hydrate immediately prior to release. We examined behavior, body mass, carapace length, movement, and mortality of tortoises for two activity seasons following release to the wild. Water supplementation was correlated with high rates of carapace growth and distant movements by males after release. Lengthy movements following translocation may be problematic for conservation planning, but this should be evaluated in light of the goals and circumstances of each translocation project. Although the mortality rate was 21.4% in 1997, data suggest that drought conditions at the site rather than the translocation itself negatively affected the tortoises. None of the tortoises died during their second season at the site. Our results indicate that translocation should be considered a useful tool in conservation of the Desert Tortoise.

  20. Long-term growth of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in a southern Nevada population

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Medica, Philip A.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Esque, Todd C.; Saethre, Mary B.

    2012-01-01

    Knowledge of growth rates, age at maturity, and longevity are important aspects of a species life history and are directly applicable to life table creation and population viability analyses. We measured the growth of a cohort of 17 semi-wild Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) located in Rock Valley, Nevada over a 47-yr period beginning in 1963. The tortoises were initially marked as hatchling and juvenile animals between the years 1963 and 1965 and ranged in size from 47 to 77 mm in plastron length. We assigned ages of 1--4 yr to the tortoises at initial capture based on their body size. These tortoises were recaptured, measured, and weighed approximately annually since their initial capture. Growth of male and female tortoises did not differ significantly until animals reached the age of 23--25 yr. Annual tortoise growth was correlated with the production of ephemeral vegetation, while accounting for size, sex, and repeated measurements of the animals as well as the interval between measurements. However, the production of ephemeral plants was likewise highly correlated (non-linearly) with winter rainfall. Stochastic predation events between 2003 and 2007 decimated this cohort of tortoises. The average age of the long-term surviving tortoises from this cohort was 43 yr with a range of 39--47 yr. Twelve of the tortoises survived to the age of 39 yr and 11 of the 12 reached 40 yr.

  1. Accuracy and reliability of dogs in surveying for desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

    PubMed

    Cablk, Mary E; Heaton, Jill S

    2006-10-01

    The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is federally listed as "threatened" and is afforded protection in several U.S. states including California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. Numerous factors ranging from habitat destruction to disease are thought to contribute to the species' decline throughout its range. Data collection on desert tortoises in the wild is challenging because tortoises are secretive, and many age and size classes are virtually undetectable in the wild. Detection dogs have been used for decades to assist humans, and the use of dogs for wildlife surveys is of increasing interest to scientists and wildlife managers. To address the basic question of whether dogs could be used to survey for the desert tortoise, we quantified the reliability and efficacy of dogs trained for this purpose. Efficacy is the number of tortoises that dogs find out of a known population. Reliability is a measure of how many times a dog performs its trained alert when it has found a tortoise. A series of experimental trials were designed to statistically quantify these metrics in the field setting where dogs trained to locate live desert tortoises were tested on their ability to find them on the surface, in burrows, and in mark-recapture surveys. Results indicated that dogs are effective at and can safely locate desert tortoises with reliability on the surface and are capable of detecting tortoises in burrows under a range of environmental conditions. Dogs found tortoises at the same statistical rate at temperatures between 12 degrees and 27 degrees C, relative humidity from 16% to 87%, and wind speeds up to 8 m/s. In both surface and burrow trials, dogs found >90% of the experimental animals. In comparative studies with humans, dogs found tortoises as small as 30 mm, whereas the smallest tortoise located by human survey teams was 110 mm. Although not all dogs or dog teams meet the requirements to conduct wildlife surveys, results from this study show the promise in using dogs

  2. Soluble scute proteins of healthy and ill desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Homer, B.L.; Li, C.; Berry, K.H.; Denslow, N.D.; Jacobson, E.R.; Sawyer, R.H.; Williams, J.E.

    2001-01-01

    Objectives - To characterize protein composition of shell scute of desert tortoises and to determine whether detectable differences could be used to identify healthy tortoises from tortoises with certain illnesses. Animals - 20 desert tortoises. Procedures - Complete postmortem examinations were performed on all tortoises. Plastron scute proteins were solubilized, scute proteins were separated by use of sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), and proteins were analyzed, using densitometry. Two-dimensional immobilized pH gradient-PAGE (2D IPG-PAGE) and immunoblot analysis, using polyclonal antisera to chicken-feather ?? keratin and to alligator-scale ?? keratin, were conducted on representative samples. The 14-kd proteins were analyzed for amino acid composition. Results - The SDS-PAGE and densitometry revealed 7 distinct bands, each with a mean relative protein concentration of > 1 %, ranging from 8 to 47 kd, and a major protein component of approximately 14 kd that constituted up to 75% of the scute protein. The 2D IPG-PAGE revealed additional distinct 62-and 68-kd protein bands. On immunoblot analysis, the 14-, 32-, and 45-kd proteins reacted with both antisera. The 14-kd proteins had an amino acid composition similar to that of chicken ?? keratins. There was a substantial difference in the percentage of the major 14-kd proteins from scute of ill tortoises with normal appearing shells, compared with 14-kd proteins of healthy tortoises. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - The major protein components of shell scute of desert tortoises have amino acid composition and antigenic features of ?? keratins. Scute protein composition may be altered in tortoises with certain systemic illnesses.

  3. The effect of research activities and winter precipitation on voiding behaviour of Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Agha, Mickey; Murphy, Mason O.; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Oldham, Christian R.; Meyer-Wilkins, Kathie; Bjurlin, Curtis; Austin, Meaghan; Madrak, Sheila V.; Loughran, Caleb L.; Tennant, Laura A.; Price, Steven J.

    2015-01-01

    Implications: This study has demonstrated that common handling practices on desert tortoise may cause voiding behaviour. These results suggest that in order to minimise undesirable behavioural responses in studied desert tortoise populations, defined procedures or protocols must be followed by the investigators to reduce contact period to the extent feasible.

  4. Gopherus agassizii (Agassiz’s desert tortoise). scute dysecdysis/scute sloughing

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, Kenneth E.; Drake, Karla K.; Medica, Phil A.; Esque, Todd C.

    2012-01-01

    Desert tortoises with scute injuries due to fire or disease related processes can result in loss of the scute. These animals appear to function normally, and can replace the scute material with a keratinized layer that covers the bone. This paper describes a tortoise with severe scute loss from a wildfire in 2005, and an animal that lost its scute for unknown reasons. Both animals appeared to be healthy in all other aspects, and lived for many years afterward.

  5. Biogeographic perspective of speciation among desert tortoises in the genus Gopherus: a preliminary evaluation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Taylor; Vaughn, Mercy; Meléndez Torres, Cristina; Karl, Alice E.; Rosen, Philip C.; Berry, Kristin H.; Murph, Robert W.

    2013-01-01

    The enduring processes of time, climate, and adaptation have sculpted the distribution of organisms we observe in the Sonoran Desert. One such organism is Morafka’s desert tortoise, Gopherus morafkai. We apply a genomic approach to identify the evolutionary processes driving diversity in this species and present preliminary findings and emerging hypotheses. The Sonoran Desert form of the tortoise exhibits a continuum of genetic similarity spanning 850 km of Sonoran desertscrub extending from Empalme, Sonora, to Kingman, Arizona. However, at the ecotone between desertscrub and foothills thornscrub we identify a distinct, Sinaloan lineage and this occurrence suggests a more complex evolutionary history for G. morafkai. By using multiple loci from throughout the tortoise’s genome, we aim to determine if divergence between these lineages occurred in allopatry, and further to investigate for signatures of past or current genetic introgression. This international, collaborative project will assist state and federal agencies in developing management strategies that best preserve the evolutionary potential of Morafka’s desert tortoise. Ultimately, an understanding of the evolutionary history of desert tortoises will not only clarify the forces that have driven the divergence in this group, but also contribute to our knowledge of the biogeographic history of the Southwestern deserts and how diversity is maintained within them.

  6. Managing a subsidized predator population: Reducing common raven predation on desert tortoises

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Boarman, W.I.

    2003-01-01

    Human communities often are an inadvertent source of food, water, and other resources to native species of wildlife. Because these resources are more stable and predictable than those in a natural environment, animals that subsist on them are able to increase in numbers and expand their range, much to the detriment of their competitors and species they prey upon. In the Mojave Desert, common ravens (Corvus corax) have benefited from human-provided resources to increase in population size precipitously in recent years. This trend has caused concern because ravens prey on juvenile desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), a federally threatened species. In this paper, I discuss management strategies to reduce raven predation on desert tortoises. The recommendations fall into three categories: (1) managing raven populations by reducing access to anthropogenic resources; (2) removing offending ravens or other birds in specially targeted tortoise management zones; and (3) continuing research on raven ecology, raven behavior, and methods of reducing raven predation on tortoises. I also recommend approaching the problem within an adaptive management framework: management efforts should first be employed as scientific experiments - with replicates and controls - to yield an unbiased assessment of their effectiveness. Furthermore, these strategies should be implemented in concert with actions that reduce other causes of desert tortoise mortality to aid the long-term recovery of their populations. Overall, the approaches outlined in this paper are widely applicable to the management of subsidized predators, particularly where they present a threat to a declining species of prey.

  7. Ecological energetics of the desert tortoise (Gopherus Agassizii): Effects of rainfall and drought

    SciTech Connect

    Peterson, C.C.

    1996-09-01

    To elucidate ecological effects of variation in the temporal distribution of a limiting resource (water in the Mojave Desert), energetics of two free-living populations of desert tortoises (Gopherus [=Xerobates] agassizii) were studied concurrently over 18 mo with use of doubly-labeled water. Field metabolic rates (FMR) and feeding rates were highly variable. This variability was manifested at several levels, including seasonal changes within populations, year-to-year differences within populations, and differences between populations. Underlying observed patterns and contrasts was considerable variation among individuals. Much of the variation in energetic variables was associated with a single climatic variable, rainfall. Seasonal, annual, and interpopulation differences in FMR and foraging rates corresponded to differences in availability of free-standing water from rainstorms. Some differences among individuals were apparently due to differences in proclivity or ability to drink. Tortoises had very low FMRs relative to other reptiles, allowed them to tolerate long periods of chronic energy shortage during a drought. Calculations suggested that tortoises experienced a net loss of energy shortage during a drought and tortoises experienced a net loss of energy on their spring diet of succulent annual plants. If so, tortoises require drier forage to accrue an energy profit, emphasizing reliance on drinking rainwater. Further, it suggests that growth (as protein deposition) and net acquisition of energy may be temporally decoupled in desert tortoises, with potential consequences for geographic variation in life history. Energy acquisition and expenditure in desert tortoises are strongly constrained by the contingencies of rainfall, both indirectly through effects on availability and quality of food, and directly through reliance on free-standing water for drinking, which is apparently necessary for achieving a net annual energy profit. 61 refs., 5 figs., 5 tabs.

  8. Long-term post-fire effects on spatial ecology and reproductive output of female Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) at a wind energy facility near Palm Springs, California, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Madrak, Sheila V.; Loughran, Caleb L.; Meyer, Katherin P.; Arundel, Terence R.; Bjurlin, Curtis D.

    2011-01-01

    We studied the long-term response of a cohort of eight female Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) during the first 15 years following a large fire at a wind energy generation facility near Palm Springs, California, USA. The fire burned a significant portion of the study site in 1995. Tortoise activity areas were mapped using minimum convex polygons for a proximate post-fire interval from 1997 to 2000, and a long-term post-fire interval from 2009 to 2010. In addition, we measured the annual reproductive output of eggs each year and monitored the body condition of tortoises over time. One adult female tortoise was killed by the fire and five tortoises bore exposure scars that were not fatal. Despite predictions that tortoises would make the short-distance movements from burned to nearby unburned habitats, most activity areas and their centroids remained in burned areas for the duration of the study. The percentage of activity area burned did not differ significantly between the two monitoring periods. Annual reproductive output and measures of body condition remained statistically similar throughout the monitoring period. Despite changes in plant composition, conditions at this site appeared to be suitable for survival of tortoises following a major fire. High productivity at the site may have buffered tortoises from the adverse impacts of fire if they were not killed outright. Tortoise populations at less productive desert sites may not have adequate resources to sustain normal activity areas, reproductive output, and body conditions following fire.

  9. Modeling Habitat of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in the Mojave and Parts of the Sonoran Deserts of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, Kenneth E.; Esque, Todd C.; Inman, Richard D.; Gass, Leila; Thomas, Kathryn A.; Wallace, Cynthia S.A.; Blainey, Joan B.; Miller, David M.; Webb, Robert H.

    2009-01-01

    Habitat modeling is an important tool used to simulate the potential distribution of a species for a variety of basic and applied questions. The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is a federally listed threatened species in the Mojave Desert and parts of the Sonoran Desert of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. Land managers in this region require reliable information about the potential distribution of desert tortoise habitat to plan conservation efforts, guide monitoring activities, monitor changes in the amount and quality of habitat available, minimize and mitigate disturbances, and ultimately to assess the status of the tortoise and its habitat toward recovery of the species. By applying information from the literature and our knowledge or assumptions of environmental variables that could potentially explain variability in the quality of desert tortoise habitat, we developed a quantitative habitat model for the desert tortoise using an extensive set of field-collected presence data. Sixteen environmental data layers were converted into a grid covering the study area and merged with the desert tortoise presence data that we gathered for input into the Maxent habitat-modeling algorithm. This model provides output of the statistical probability of habitat potential that can be used to map potential areas of desert tortoise habitat. This type of analysis, while robust in its predictions of habitat, does not account for anthropogenic changes that may have altered habitat with relatively high potential into areas with lower potential.

  10. The desert tortoise trichotomy: Mexico hosts a third, new sister-species of tortoise in the Gopherus morafkai-G. agassizii group.

    PubMed

    Edwards, Taylor; Karl, Alice E; Vaughn, Mercy; Rosen, Philip C; Torres, Cristina Meléndez; Murphy, Robert W

    2016-01-01

    Desert tortoises (Testudines; Testudinidae; Gopherus agassizii group) have an extensive distribution throughout the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran desert regions. Not surprisingly, they exhibit a tremendous amount of ecological, behavioral, morphological and genetic variation. Gopherus agassizii was considered a single species for almost 150 years but recently the species was split into the nominate form and Morafka's desert tortoise, Gopherus morafkai, the latter occurring south and east of the Colorado River. Whereas a large body of literature focuses on tortoises in the United States, a dearth of investigations exists for Mexican animals. Notwithstanding, Mexican populations of desert tortoises in the southern part of the range of Gopherus morafkai are distinct, particularly where the tortoises occur in tropical thornscrub and tropical deciduous forest. Recent studies have shed light on the ecology, morphology and genetics of these southern 'desert' tortoises. All evidence warrants recognition of this clade as a distinctive taxon and herein we describe it as Gopherus evgoodei sp. n. The description of the new species significantly reduces and limits the distribution of Gopherus morafkai to desertscrub habitat only. By contrast, Gopherus evgoodei sp. n. occurs in thornscrub and tropical deciduous forests only and this leaves it with the smallest range of the three sister species. We present conservation implications for the newly described Gopherus evgoodei, which already faces impending threats. PMID:27006625

  11. The desert tortoise trichotomy: Mexico hosts a third, new sister-species of tortoise in the Gopherus morafkai–G. agassizii group

    PubMed Central

    Edwards, Taylor; Karl, Alice E.; Vaughn, Mercy; Rosen, Philip C.; Torres, Cristina Meléndez; Murphy, Robert W.

    2016-01-01

    Abstract Desert tortoises (Testudines; Testudinidae; Gopherus agassizii group) have an extensive distribution throughout the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran desert regions. Not surprisingly, they exhibit a tremendous amount of ecological, behavioral, morphological and genetic variation. Gopherus agassizii was considered a single species for almost 150 years but recently the species was split into the nominate form and Morafka’s desert tortoise, Gopherus morafkai, the latter occurring south and east of the Colorado River. Whereas a large body of literature focuses on tortoises in the United States, a dearth of investigations exists for Mexican animals. Notwithstanding, Mexican populations of desert tortoises in the southern part of the range of Gopherus morafkai are distinct, particularly where the tortoises occur in tropical thornscrub and tropical deciduous forest. Recent studies have shed light on the ecology, morphology and genetics of these southern ‘desert’ tortoises. All evidence warrants recognition of this clade as a distinctive taxon and herein we describe it as Gopherus evgoodei sp. n. The description of the new species significantly reduces and limits the distribution of Gopherus morafkai to desertscrub habitat only. By contrast, Gopherus evgoodei sp. n. occurs in thornscrub and tropical deciduous forests only and this leaves it with the smallest range of the three sister species. We present conservation implications for the newly described Gopherus evgoodei, which already faces impending threats. PMID:27006625

  12. Modeling population response to anthropogenic threats for a long-lived reptile, the desert tortoise

    EPA Science Inventory

    Background/Question/Methods The decline in desert tortoise population densities and abundances since the 1970s has been attributed to numerous threats, leading scientists, land managers, and conservationists to describe the plight of the species as a “death by a thousand cuts.” ...

  13. Application of diagnostic tests for mycoplasmal infections of desert and gopher tortoises with management recommendations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brown, D.R.; Schumacher, I.M.; Mclaughlin, Grace S.; Wendland, L.D.; Brown, Mary E.; Klein, P.A.; Jacobson, E.R.

    2002-01-01

    Mycoplasmosis is a transmissible upper respiratory tract disease that has affected plans for management and conservation of wild desert and gopher tortoises in the United States. Although impact of mycoplasmosis on populations of desert and gopher tortoises is unknown, increased prevalence of seropositive animals as well as field observations of clinically ill tortoises have occurred in association with declining populations. In order to help in the identification of potentially infected animals, three tests have been developed to diagnose mycoplasmal infections of tortoises: 1) direct mycoplasmal culture; 2) detection of mycolplasmal chromosomal DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR); and 3) detection of anti-Mycoplasma antibodies in tortoise plasma by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Each test provides different, complementary information that collectively can be used to define tortoise mycoplasmal infection status. The types of samples required, the predictive value, interpretation, and cost vary among tests. These assays have been used for epidemiological surveys and in decision making for relocation, repatriation, or captive management of tortoises to minimize the risk of outbreaks of mycoplasmal respiratory disease and spread of the causative agent of this disease. Certain features of mycoplasmal infections of tortoises and other animals create a diagnostic dilemma. Multiple Mycoplasma species can cause respiratory disease with identical clinical presentations. Further, individual strains of a given species may vary with respect to their virulence potential, and some species may be commensals rather than pathogens. Current diagnostic tests may not differentiate among mycoplasmal species or strains or permit determination of pathogenicity of individual isolates. Thus, the information provided by testing is not a simple 'positive' vs. 'negative' issue. While these tests provide much needed information on the exposure of tortoise populations to

  14. Fine-Scale Analysis Reveals Cryptic Landscape Genetic Structure in Desert Tortoises

    PubMed Central

    Latch, Emily K.; Boarman, William I.; Walde, Andrew; Fleischer, Robert C.

    2011-01-01

    Characterizing the effects of landscape features on genetic variation is essential for understanding how landscapes shape patterns of gene flow and spatial genetic structure of populations. Most landscape genetics studies have focused on patterns of gene flow at a regional scale. However, the genetic structure of populations at a local scale may be influenced by a unique suite of landscape variables that have little bearing on connectivity patterns observed at broader spatial scales. We investigated fine-scale spatial patterns of genetic variation and gene flow in relation to features of the landscape in desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), using 859 tortoises genotyped at 16 microsatellite loci with associated data on geographic location, sex, elevation, slope, and soil type, and spatial relationship to putative barriers (power lines, roads). We used spatially explicit and non-explicit Bayesian clustering algorithms to partition the sample into discrete clusters, and characterize the relationships between genetic distance and ecological variables to identify factors with the greatest influence on gene flow at a local scale. Desert tortoises exhibit weak genetic structure at a local scale, and we identified two subpopulations across the study area. Although genetic differentiation between the subpopulations was low, our landscape genetic analysis identified both natural (slope) and anthropogenic (roads) landscape variables that have significantly influenced gene flow within this local population. We show that desert tortoise movements at a local scale are influenced by features of the landscape, and that these features are different than those that influence gene flow at larger scales. Our findings are important for desert tortoise conservation and management, particularly in light of recent translocation efforts in the region. More generally, our results indicate that recent landscape changes can affect gene flow at a local scale and that their effects can be

  15. Fine-scale analysis reveals cryptic landscape genetic structure in desert tortoises.

    PubMed

    Latch, Emily K; Boarman, William I; Walde, Andrew; Fleischer, Robert C

    2011-01-01

    Characterizing the effects of landscape features on genetic variation is essential for understanding how landscapes shape patterns of gene flow and spatial genetic structure of populations. Most landscape genetics studies have focused on patterns of gene flow at a regional scale. However, the genetic structure of populations at a local scale may be influenced by a unique suite of landscape variables that have little bearing on connectivity patterns observed at broader spatial scales. We investigated fine-scale spatial patterns of genetic variation and gene flow in relation to features of the landscape in desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), using 859 tortoises genotyped at 16 microsatellite loci with associated data on geographic location, sex, elevation, slope, and soil type, and spatial relationship to putative barriers (power lines, roads). We used spatially explicit and non-explicit Bayesian clustering algorithms to partition the sample into discrete clusters, and characterize the relationships between genetic distance and ecological variables to identify factors with the greatest influence on gene flow at a local scale. Desert tortoises exhibit weak genetic structure at a local scale, and we identified two subpopulations across the study area. Although genetic differentiation between the subpopulations was low, our landscape genetic analysis identified both natural (slope) and anthropogenic (roads) landscape variables that have significantly influenced gene flow within this local population. We show that desert tortoise movements at a local scale are influenced by features of the landscape, and that these features are different than those that influence gene flow at larger scales. Our findings are important for desert tortoise conservation and management, particularly in light of recent translocation efforts in the region. More generally, our results indicate that recent landscape changes can affect gene flow at a local scale and that their effects can be

  16. Using motion-sensor camera technology to infer seasonal activity and thermal niche of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Agha, Mickey; Augustine, Benjamin; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Delaney, David F.; Sinervo, Barry; Murphy, Mason O.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Briggs, Jessica R.; Cooper, Robert J.; Price, Steven J.

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relationships between environmental variables and wildlife activity is an important part of effective management. The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), an imperiled species of arid environments in the southwest US, may have increasingly restricted windows for activity due to current warming trends. In summer 2013, we deployed 48 motion sensor cameras at the entrances of tortoise burrows to investigate the effects of temperature, sex, and day of the year on the activity of desert tortoises. Using generalized estimating equations, we found that the relative probability of activity was associated with temperature (linear and quadratic), sex, and day of the year. Sex effects showed that male tortoises are generally more active than female tortoises. Temperature had a quadratic effect, indicating that tortoise activity was heightened at a range of temperatures. In addition, we found significant support for interactions between sex and day of the year, and sex and temperature as predictors of the probability of activity. Using our models, we were able to estimate air temperatures and times (days and hours) that were associated with maximum activity during the study. Because tortoise activity is constrained by environmental conditions such as temperature, it is increasingly vital to conduct studies on how tortoises vary their activity throughout the Sonoran Desert to better understand the effects of a changing climate.

  17. A Microcantilever Sensor Array for the Detection and Inventory of Desert Tortoises

    SciTech Connect

    Venedam, R. J.; Dillingham, T. R.

    2008-07-01

    We have designed and tested a portable instrument consisting of a small infrared camera coupled with an array of piezoresistive microcantilever sensors that is used to provide real-time, non-invasive data on desert tortoise den occupancy. The piezoresistive microcantilever (PMC) sensors are used to obtain a chemical “signature” of tortoise presence from the air deep within the dens, and provide data in cases where the camera cannot extend deep enough into the den to provide visual evidence of tortoise presence. The infrared camera was used to verify the PMC data during testing, and in many cases, such as shallower dens, may be used to provide exact numbers on den populations.

  18. Impacts of upper respiratory tract disease on olfactory behavior of the Mojave desert tortoise.

    PubMed

    Germano, Jennifer; Van Zerr, Vanessa E; Esque, Todd C; Nussear, Ken E; Lamberski, Nadine

    2014-04-01

    Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) caused by Mycoplasma agassizii is considered a threat to desert tortoise populations that should be addressed as part of the recovery of the species. Clinical signs can be intermittent and include serous or mucoid nasal discharge and respiratory difficulty when nares are occluded. This nasal congestion may result in a loss of the olfactory sense. Turtles are known to use olfaction to identify food items, predators, and conspecifics; therefore, it is likely that URTD affects not only their physical well-being but also their behavior and ability to perform necessary functions in the wild. To determine more specifically the impact nasal discharge might have on free-ranging tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), we compared the responses of tortoises with and without nasal discharge and both positive and negative for M. agassizii antibodies to a visually hidden olfactory food stimulus and an empty control. We found that nasal discharge did reduce sense of smell and hence the ability to locate food. Our study also showed that moderate chronic nasal discharge in the absence of other clinical signs did not affect appetite in desert tortoises. PMID:24506425

  19. Diet of desert tortoises at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and implications for habitat reclamation

    SciTech Connect

    Rakestraw, D.L.; Holt, E.A.; Rautenstrauch, K.R.

    1995-12-01

    The diet of desert tortoises at Yucca Mountain was assessed during 1992 to 1995 using a combination of feeding observations and scat analysis. Feeding observation data (1993 through 1995) showed that tortoises fed on a wide variety of items. The most frequently eaten items were forbs and annual grasses. These two forage groups comprised more than 90% of all bites taken. Analysis of scat (1992 and 1993) also showed that grasses and forbs were the most common groups, making up more than 80% of the composition of scat. Yearly differences between proportions of species in the diet were observed and were most likely attributable to differences in plant productivity, which is linked to rainfall patterns. Non-native species were an important component of the diet in all years, accounting for 13 to 50% of all bites observed and 6 to 24% of scat contents. A list of all items encountered in the diet is provided. To facilitate reclamation of desert tortoise habitat disturbed by the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project, native forage species that should be included in reclamation seed mixes, when feasible, were identified. Although shrubs make up only a small proportion of the diet, they should also be included in reclamation efforts because they provide habitat structure. Tortoise cover sites, and microhabitats amenable to seed germination and seedling establishment. In addition, non-native species should not be planted on reclaimed sites and, if necessary, sites should be recontoured and soil compaction reduced prior to planting.

  20. Impacts of upper respiratory tract disease on olfactory behavior of the Mojave desert tortoise

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Germano, Jennifer; Van Zerr, Vanessa E.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Ken E.; Lamberski, Nadine

    2014-01-01

    Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) caused by Mycoplasma agassizii is considered a threat to desert tortoise populations that should be addressed as part of the recovery of the species. Clinical signs can be intermittent and include serous or mucoid nasal discharge and respiratory difficulty when nares are occluded. This nasal congestion may result in a loss of the olfactory sense. Turtles are known to use olfaction to identify food items, predators, and conspecifics; therefore, it is likely that URTD affects not only their physical well-being but also their behavior and ability to perform necessary functions in the wild. To determine more specifically the impact nasal discharge might have on free-ranging tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), we compared the responses of tortoises with and without nasal discharge and both positive and negative for M. agassizii antibodies to a visually hidden olfactory food stimulus and an empty control. We found that nasal discharge did reduce sense of smell and hence the ability to locate food. Our study also showed that moderate chronic nasal discharge in the absence of other clinical signs did not affect appetite in desert tortoises.

  1. Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) thermal ecology and reproductive success along a rainfall cline.

    PubMed

    Sieg, Annette E; Gambone, Megan M; Wallace, Bryan P; Clusella-Trullas, Susana; Spotila, James R; Avery, Harold W

    2015-05-01

    Desert resource environments (e.g. microclimates, food) are tied to limited, highly localized rainfall regimes which generate microgeographic variation in the life histories of inhabitants. Typically, enhanced growth rates, reproduction and survivorship are observed in response to increased resource availability in a variety of desert plants and short-lived animals. We examined the thermal ecology and reproduction of US federally threatened Mojave desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), long-lived and large-bodied ectotherms, at opposite ends of a 250-m elevation-related rainfall cline within Ivanpah Valley in the eastern Mojave Desert, California, USA. Biophysical operative environments in both the upper-elevation, "Cima," and the lower-elevation, "Pumphouse," plots corresponded with daily and seasonal patterns of incident solar radiation. Cima received 22% more rainfall and contained greater perennial vegetative cover, which conferred 5°C-cooler daytime shaded temperatures. In a monitored average rainfall year, Cima tortoises had longer potential activity periods by up to several hours and greater ephemeral forage. Enhanced resource availability in Cima was associated with larger-bodied females producing larger eggs, while still producing the same number of eggs as Pumphouse females. However, reproductive success was lower in Cima because 90% of eggs were depredated versus 11% in Pumphouse, indicating that predatory interactions produced counter-gradient variation in reproductive success across the rainfall cline. Land-use impacts on deserts (e.g. solar energy generation) are increasing rapidly, and conservation strategies designed to protect and recover threatened desert inhabitants, such as desert tortoises, should incorporate these strong ecosystem-level responses to regional resource variation in assessments of habitat for prospective development and mitigation efforts. PMID:25827446

  2. The application of habitat modeling to the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Schamberger, Melvin L.; Turner, Frederick B.

    1986-01-01

    Habitat modeling offers an approach to understanding some management problems of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) and to focusing new research efforts. Modeling can provide (1) a method to organize existing information, (2) a means to identify whether physical habitat or some factor outside the scope of the habitat model is limiting populations, (3) a method to integrate habitat into resource development planning, and (4) a mechanism for focusing research on missing species-habitat information.

  3. Turbines and Terrestrial Vertebrates: Variation in Tortoise Survivorship Between a Wind Energy Facility and an Adjacent Undisturbed Wildland Area in the Desert Southwest (USA)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Agha, Mickey; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Augustine, Benjamin; Arundel, Terence R.; Murphy, Mason O.; Meyer-Wilkins, Kathie; Bjurlin, Curtis; Delaney, David; Briggs, Jessica; Austin, Meaghan; Madrak, Sheila V.; Price, Steven J.

    2015-08-01

    With the recent increase in utility-scale wind energy development, researchers have become increasingly concerned how this activity will affect wildlife and their habitat. To understand the potential impacts of wind energy facilities (WEF) post-construction (i.e., operation and maintenance) on wildlife, we compared differences in activity centers and survivorship of Agassiz's desert tortoises ( Gopherus agassizii) inside or near a WEF to neighboring tortoises living near a wilderness area (NWA) and farther from the WEF. We found that the size of tortoise activity centers varied, but not significantly so, between the WEF (6.25 ± 2.13 ha) and adjacent NWA (4.13 ± 1.23 ha). However, apparent survival did differ significantly between the habitat types: over the 18-year study period apparent annual survival estimates were 0.96 ± 0.01 for WEF tortoises and 0.92 ± 0.02 for tortoises in the NWA. High annual survival suggests that operation and maintenance of the WEF has not caused considerable declines in the adult population over the past two decades. Low traffic volume, enhanced resource availability, and decreased predator populations may influence annual survivorship at this WEF. Further research on these proximate mechanisms and population recruitment would be useful for mitigating and managing post-development impacts of utility-scale wind energy on long-lived terrestrial vertebrates.

  4. Turbines and Terrestrial Vertebrates: Variation in Tortoise Survivorship Between a Wind Energy Facility and an Adjacent Undisturbed Wildland Area in the Desert Southwest (USA).

    PubMed

    Agha, Mickey; Lovich, Jeffrey E; Ennen, Joshua R; Augustine, Benjamin; Arundel, Terence R; Murphy, Mason O; Meyer-Wilkins, Kathie; Bjurlin, Curtis; Delaney, David; Briggs, Jessica; Austin, Meaghan; Madrak, Sheila V; Price, Steven J

    2015-08-01

    With the recent increase in utility-scale wind energy development, researchers have become increasingly concerned how this activity will affect wildlife and their habitat. To understand the potential impacts of wind energy facilities (WEF) post-construction (i.e., operation and maintenance) on wildlife, we compared differences in activity centers and survivorship of Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) inside or near a WEF to neighboring tortoises living near a wilderness area (NWA) and farther from the WEF. We found that the size of tortoise activity centers varied, but not significantly so, between the WEF (6.25 ± 2.13 ha) and adjacent NWA (4.13 ± 1.23 ha). However, apparent survival did differ significantly between the habitat types: over the 18-year study period apparent annual survival estimates were 0.96 ± 0.01 for WEF tortoises and 0.92 ± 0.02 for tortoises in the NWA. High annual survival suggests that operation and maintenance of the WEF has not caused considerable declines in the adult population over the past two decades. Low traffic volume, enhanced resource availability, and decreased predator populations may influence annual survivorship at this WEF. Further research on these proximate mechanisms and population recruitment would be useful for mitigating and managing post-development impacts of utility-scale wind energy on long-lived terrestrial vertebrates. PMID:25894273

  5. Turbines and terrestrial vertebrates: variation in tortoise survivorship between a wind energy facility and an adjacent undisturbed wildland area in the desert southwest (USA)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Agha, Mickey; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Augustine, Benjamin J.; Arundel, Terry; Murphy, Mason O.; Meyer-Wilkins, Kathie; Bjurlin, Curtis; Delaney, David F.; Briggs, Jessica; Austin, Meaghan; Madrak, Sheila V.; Price, Steven J.

    2015-01-01

    With the recent increase in utility-scale wind energy development, researchers have become increasingly concerned how this activity will affect wildlife and their habitat. To understand the potential impacts of wind energy facilities (WEF) post-construction (i.e., operation and maintenance) on wildlife, we compared differences in activity centers and survivorship of Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) inside or near a WEF to neighboring tortoises living near a wilderness area (NWA) and farther from the WEF. We found that the size of tortoise activity centers varied, but not significantly so, between the WEF (6.25 ± 2.13 ha) and adjacent NWA (4.13 ± 1.23 ha). However, apparent survival did differ significantly between the habitat types: over the 18 year study period apparent annual survival estimates were 0.96 ± 0.01 for WEF tortoises and 0.92 ± 0.02 for tortoises in the NWA. High annual survival suggests that operation and maintenance of the WEF has not caused considerable declines in the adult population over the past two decades. Low traffic volume, enhanced resource availability and decreased predator populations may influence annual survivorship at this WEF. Further research on these proximate mechanisms and population recruitment would be useful for mitigating and managing post-development impacts of utility scale wind energy on long-lived terrestrial vertebrates.

  6. Economic analysis of critical habitat designation for the desert tortoise (Mojave population)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Schamberger, Mel; MacGillvray, Timothy J.; Draper, Dirk D.

    1993-01-01

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service emergency 1isted the Mojave population of the desert tortoise as endangered on August 4, 1989. The Mojave population formally was listed as threatened on April 2, 1990. The Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, requires that the economic benefits and costs and other relevant effects of critical habitat designation be considered. The Secretary of the Interior may exclude from designation areas where the costs of designation are greater than the benefits, unless the exclusion would result in extinction of the species. Desert tortoises are threatened by an accumulation of human-and disease-related mortality accompanied by habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. Many desert tortoises are illegally collected for pets, food, and commercial trade. Others are accidentally struck and killed by vehicles on roads and highways or are killed by gunshot or vehicles traveling off-highway. Raven predation on hatchling desert tortoises has increased as raven populations in the desert have risen. An upper respiratory tract disease is suspected to be a major cause of mortality in the western Mojave Desert. This presumably incurable affliction presumably is thought to be spread through the release of infected tortoises into the desert. The Service has proposed designating critical habitat in nine counties within four states. The 12 critical habitat units encompass 6.4 million acres of land, more than 80% federally owned. This region is economically and demographically diverse. Most of the land is sparsely settled and characterized as a hot desert ecosystem. Major industries in the region include entertainment and lodging (primarily in Las Vegas), property development to accommodate the rapid population growth, and services. Millions of rural acres in the region are leased by the federal government for livestock grazing and used for mining. Overall economic benefits to the affected states derived from cattle and sheep grazing in the

  7. Short-Term Space-Use Patterns of Translocated Mojave Desert Tortoise in Southern California

    PubMed Central

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

    2015-01-01

    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, translocation 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. PMID:26352691

  8. Short-Term Space-Use Patterns of Translocated Mojave Desert Tortoise in Southern California.

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

    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, translocation 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. PMID:26352691

  9. Nest guarding by female Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) at a wind-energy facility near Palm Springs, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Agha, Mickey; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Wilcox, Ethan

    2013-01-01

    We observed behavior consistent with nest-guarding in Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) at two nests in a large wind-energy-generation facility near Palm Springs, California, locally known as the Mesa Wind Farm. As researchers approached the nests, female desert tortoises moved to the entrance of their burrows and positioned themselves sideways, directly over their nests. One female stretched her limbs outward and wedged herself into the burrow (her plastron directly above the nest). Guarding of nests is rarely observed in Agassiz's desert tortoise but can occur as a result of attempted predation on eggs by Gila monsters (Heloderma suspectum) or in direct response to the perceived threat posed by researchers. This is the first report of nest-guarding for G. agassizii in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem of California.

  10. Making molehills out of mountains: landscape genetics of the Mojave desert tortoise

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hagerty, Bridgette E.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Esque, Todd C.; Tracy, C. Richard

    2010-01-01

    Heterogeneity in habitat often influences how organisms traverse the landscape matrix that connects populations. Understanding landscape connectivity is important to determine the ecological processes that influence those movements, which lead to evolutionary change due to gene flow. Here, we used landscape genetics and statistical models to evaluate hypotheses that could explain isolation among locations of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Within a causal modeling framework, we investigated three factors that can influence landscape connectivity: geographic distance, barriers to dispersal, and landscape friction. A statistical model of habitat suitability for the Mojave desert tortoise, based on topography, vegetation, and climate variables, was used as a proxy for landscape friction and barriers to dispersal. We quantified landscape friction with least-cost distances and with resistance distances among sampling locations. A set of diagnostic partial Mantel tests statistically separated the hypotheses of potential causes of genetic isolation. The best-supported model varied depending upon how landscape friction was quantified. Patterns of genetic structure were related to a combination of geographic distance and barriers as defined by least-cost distances, suggesting that mountain ranges and extremely low-elevation valleys influence connectivity at the regional scale beyond the tortoises' ability to disperse. However, geographic distance was the only influence detected using resistance distances, which we attributed to fundamental differences between the two ways of quantifying friction. Landscape friction, as we measured it, did not influence the observed patterns of genetic distances using either quantification. Barriers and distance may be more valuable predictors of observed population structure for species like the desert tortoise, which has high dispersal capability and a long generation time.

  11. Protection benefits desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) abundance: the influence of three management strategies on a threatened species

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, Kristin H.; Lyren, Lisa M.; Yee, Julie L.; Bailey, Tracy Y.

    2014-01-01

    We surveyed an area of ∼260 km2 in the western Mojave Desert to evaluate relationships between condition of Agassiz's Desert Tortoise populations (Gopherus agassizii) and habitat on lands that have experienced three different levels of management and protection. We established 240 1-ha plots using random sampling, with 80 plots on each of the three types of managed lands. We conducted surveys in spring 2011 and collected data on live tortoises, shell-skeletal remains, other signs of tortoises, perennial vegetation, predators, and evidence of human use. Throughout the study area and regardless of management area, tortoise abundance was positively associated with one of the more diverse associations of perennial vegetation. The management area with the longest history of protection, a fence, and legal exclusion of livestock and vehicles had significantly more live tortoises and lower death rates than the other two areas. Tortoise presence and abundance in this protected area had no significant positive or negative associations with predators or human-related impacts. In contrast, the management area with a more recent exclusion of livestock, limited vehicular traffic, and with a recent, partial fence had lower tortoise densities and high death rates. Tortoise abundance here was negatively associated with vehicle tracks and positively associated with mammalian predators and debris from firearms. The management area with the least protection—unfenced, with uncontrolled vehicle use, sheep grazing, and high trash counts—also had low tortoise densities and high death rates. Tortoise abundance was negatively associated with sheep grazing and positively associated with trash and mammalian predator scat.cat.

  12. A highway's road-effect zone for desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Boarman, W.I.; Sazaki, M.

    2006-01-01

    Roads and highways can affect populations of animals directly (e.g. due to road mortality) and indirectly (e.g. due to fragmentation of habitat and proliferation of non-native or predatory species). We investigated the effect of roads on threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) populations in the Mojave Desert, California, and attempted to determine the width of the road-effect zone by counting tortoise signs along transects at 0, 400, 800, and 1600 m from the edge of a highway. Mean sign count was 0.2/km at 0 m, 4.2/km at 400 m, 5.7/km at 800 m, and 5.4/km at 1600 m from the highway edge. The differences between all pairs of distances, except 800 and 1600 m, were statistically significant, suggesting that tortoise populations in our study area are depressed in a zone extending at least 400 m from roadways. We speculate that the major cause for this depression zone is road mortality.

  13. Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) dietary specialization decreases across a precipitation gradient.

    PubMed

    Murray, Ian W; Wolf, Blair O

    2013-01-01

    We studied the plant resource use between and within populations of desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) across a precipitation gradient in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values in animal tissues are a reflection of the carbon and nitrogen isotope values in diet, and consequently represent a powerful tool to study animal feeding ecology. We measured the δ(13)C and δ(15)N values in the growth rings on the shells of tortoises in different populations to characterize dietary specialization and track tortoise use of isotopically distinct C4/CAM versus C3 plant resources. Plants using C3 photosynthesis are generally more nutritious than C4 plants and these trait differences can have important growth and fitness consequences for consumers. We found that dietary specialization decreases in successively drier and less vegetated sites, and that broader population niche widths are accompanied by an increase in the dietary variability between individuals. Our results highlight how individual consumer plant resource use is bounded under a varying regime of precipitation and plant productivity, lending insight into how intra-individual dietary specialization varies over a spatial scale of environmental variability. PMID:23840495

  14. Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) Dietary Specialization Decreases across a Precipitation Gradient

    PubMed Central

    Murray, Ian W.; Wolf, Blair O.

    2013-01-01

    We studied the plant resource use between and within populations of desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) across a precipitation gradient in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values in animal tissues are a reflection of the carbon and nitrogen isotope values in diet, and consequently represent a powerful tool to study animal feeding ecology. We measured the δ13C and δ15N values in the growth rings on the shells of tortoises in different populations to characterize dietary specialization and track tortoise use of isotopically distinct C4/CAM versus C3 plant resources. Plants using C3 photosynthesis are generally more nutritious than C4 plants and these trait differences can have important growth and fitness consequences for consumers. We found that dietary specialization decreases in successively drier and less vegetated sites, and that broader population niche widths are accompanied by an increase in the dietary variability between individuals. Our results highlight how individual consumer plant resource use is bounded under a varying regime of precipitation and plant productivity, lending insight into how intra-individual dietary specialization varies over a spatial scale of environmental variability. PMID:23840495

  15. Mycoplasma agassizii sp., nov., isolated from the upper respiratory tract of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brown, Mary E.; Brown, D.R.; Kelin, P.A.; McLaughlin, G.S.; Schumacher, I.M.; Jacobson, E.R.; Adams, H.P.; Tully, J.G.

    2001-01-01

    Biochemical, serological and molecular genetic studies were performed on seven mycoplasma isolates that were recovered from the upper respiratory tract of clinically ill desert tortoises. The isolates were serologically related to each other but serologically distinct from previously described species. Unique mycoplasma species-specific 16S rRNA nucleotide sequences were found in the proposed type strain. The name Mycoplasma agassizii is proposed for these isolates. The type strain is PS6T (=ATCC 700616T) which caused upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in experimentally infected tortoises.

  16. Mycoplasma agassizii sp. nov., isolated from the upper respiratory tract of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

    PubMed

    Brown, M B; Brown, D R; Klein, P A; McLaughlin, G S; Schumacher, I M; Jacobson, E R; Adams, H P; Tully, J G

    2001-03-01

    Biochemical, serological and molecular genetic studies were performed on seven mycoplasma isolates that were recovered from the upper respiratory tract of clinically ill desert tortoises. The isolates were serologically related to each other but serologically distinct from previously described species. Unique mycoplasma species-specific 16S rRNA nucleotide sequences were found in the proposed type strain. The name Mycoplasma agassizii is proposed for these isolates. The type strain is PS6T (= ATCC 700616T) which caused upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in experimentally infected tortoises. PMID:11321087

  17. Problems with sampling desert tortoises: A simulation analysis based on field data

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Freilich, J.E.; Camp, R.J.; Duda, J.J.; Karl, A.E.

    2005-01-01

    The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) was listed as a U.S. threatened species in 1990 based largely on population declines inferred from mark-recapture surveys of 2.59-km2 (1-mi2) plots. Since then, several census methods have been proposed and tested, but all methods still pose logistical or statistical difficulties. We conducted computer simulations using actual tortoise location data from 2 1-mi2 plot surveys in southern California, USA, to identify strengths and weaknesses of current sampling strategies. We considered tortoise population estimates based on these plots as "truth" and then tested various sampling methods based on sampling smaller plots or transect lines passing through the mile squares. Data were analyzed using Schnabel's mark-recapture estimate and program CAPTURE. Experimental subsampling with replacement of the 1-mi2 data using 1-km2 and 0.25-km2 plot boundaries produced data sets of smaller plot sizes, which we compared to estimates from the 1-mi 2 plots. We also tested distance sampling by saturating a 1-mi 2 site with computer simulated transect lines, once again evaluating bias in density estimates. Subsampling estimates from 1-km2 plots did not differ significantly from the estimates derived at 1-mi2. The 0.25-km2 subsamples significantly overestimated population sizes, chiefly because too few recaptures were made. Distance sampling simulations were biased 80% of the time and had high coefficient of variation to density ratios. Furthermore, a prospective power analysis suggested limited ability to detect population declines as high as 50%. We concluded that poor performance and bias of both sampling procedures was driven by insufficient sample size, suggesting that all efforts must be directed to increasing numbers found in order to produce reliable results. Our results suggest that present methods may not be capable of accurately estimating desert tortoise populations.

  18. Mycoplasma agassizii causes upper respiratory tract disease in the desert tortoise.

    PubMed Central

    Brown, M B; Schumacher, I M; Klein, P A; Harris, K; Correll, T; Jacobson, E R

    1994-01-01

    The desert tortoise is listed by the United States government as a threatened species in part of its range. A major contributing factor in the decline of this animal has been the presence of an upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) which is characterized by a chronic disease which eventually leads to severe occlusion of the nares with viscous exudate and destruction of the respiratory epithelium. Electron microscopy of infected tissues demonstrated the presence of a mycoplasma-like organism attached to the respiratory surfaces. The mycoplasma was isolated and designated as a new species, with the proposed name Mycoplasma agassizii. The current study was designed to fulfill Koch's postulates and determine if M. agassizii was the etiologic agent of URTD. Clinically healthy animals with known antibody status were infused intranasally with pooled exudate (n = 8) from ill donor animals, with M. agassizii alone (n = 9) or in combination with Pasteurella testudinis (n = 8), with P. testudinis alone (n = 9), or with sterile broth (n = 12). The pooled exudate was culture positive for M. agassizii. Tortoises which received exudate or M. agassizii alone or in conjunction with P. testudinis were significantly more likely to develop clinical disease (P < 0.0004) than animals which received P. testudinis alone or the broth controls. Tortoises demonstrated a strong immune response to M. agassizii, and seroconversion was seen in all groups with clinical disease. M. agassizii was isolated from the upper respiratory tracts of clinically ill animals up to 6 months postinfection. On the basis of the results of these transmission studies, we conclude that M. agassizii is an etiologic agent of URTD in the desert tortoise. Images PMID:7927724

  19. Effectiveness of post-fire seeding in desert tortoise Critical Habitat following the 2005 Southern Nevada Fire Complex

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    DeFalco, Lesley; Drake, Karla K.; Scoles-Sciulla, S. J.; Bauer, Kyla L.

    2010-01-01

    In June 2005, lightning strikes ignited multiple wildfires in southern Nevada. The Southern Nevada Fire Complex burned more than 32,000 acres of designated desert tortoise Critical Habitat and an additional 403,000 acres of Mojave Desert habitat characterized as potentially suitable for the tortoise. Mortalities of desert tortoises were observed after the fires, but altered habitat is likely to prolong and magnify the impacts of wildfire on desert tortoise populations. To accelerate the re-establishment of plants commonly used by tortoises for food and shelter, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) distributed seeds of native annual and perennial species in burned areas within desert tortoise Critical Habitat. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) established monitoring plots to evaluate broadcast seeding as a means to restore habitat and tortoise activity compared with natural recovery. Within the standard three-year Emergency and Stabilization Response (ESR) monitoring timeline, seeding augmented perennial seed banks by four to six-fold within a year of seed applications compared with unseeded areas. By the end of the three-year monitoring period, seedling densities of seeded perennial species were 33% higher in seeded areas than in unseeded areas, particularly for the disturbance-adapted desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata). Seeded annuals, in contrast, did not increase significantly in seed banks or biomass production, likely due to low seeding rates of these species. Production of non-native annuals that helped carry the fires was not reduced by seeding efforts but instead was strongly correlated with site-specific rainfall, as were native annual species. The short-term vegetation changes measured in seeded areas were not yet associated with a return of tortoise activity to unburned levels. By focusing on a combination of native species that can withstand disturbance conditions, including species that are found in

  20. Inferring social structure and its drivers from refuge use in the desert tortoise, a relatively solitary species

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sah, Pratha; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Esque, Todd C.; Aiello, Christina M.; Hudson, Peter J.; Bansal, Shweta

    2016-01-01

    For several species, refuges (such as burrows, dens, roosts, nests) are an essential resource for protection from predators and extreme environmental conditions. Refuges also serve as focal sites for social interactions including mating, courtship and aggression. Knowledge of refuge use patterns can therefore provide information about social structure, mating and foraging success, as well as the robustness and health of wildlife populations, especially for species considered to be relatively solitary. In this study, we construct networks of burrow use to infer social associations in a threatened wildlife species typically considered solitary - the desert tortoise. We show that tortoise social networks are significantly different than null networks of random associations, and have moderate spatial constraints. We next use statistical models to identify major mechanisms behind individual-level variation in tortoise burrow use, popularity of burrows in desert tortoise habitat and test for stressor-driven changes in refuge use patterns. We show that seasonal variation has a strong impact on tortoise burrow switching behavior. On the other hand, burrow age and topographical condition influence the number of tortoises visiting a burrow in desert tortoise habitat. Of three major population stressors affecting this species (translocation, drought, disease), translocation alters tortoise burrow switching behavior, with translocated animals visiting fewer unique burrows than residents. In a species that is not social, our study highlights the importance of leveraging refuge use behavior to study the presence of and mechanisms behind non-random social structure and individual-level variation. Our analysis of the impact of stressors on refuge-based social structure further emphasizes the potential of this method to detect environmental or anthropogenic disturbances.

  1. Arsenic Species in Scute (Shell Plate) and Lung Tissues of Desert Tortoises

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foster, A. L.; Berry, K.; Jacobson, E. R.; Rytuba, J. J.

    2009-12-01

    The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is federally listed as a threatened species, and its numbers have been in decline for at least two decades. Portions of protected desert tortoise habitats coincide with anthropogenic features such as historic mines and military bases that are potential sources of ingested or inhaled arsenic. Previous studies of necropsied desert tortoise specimens collected from the Mojave Desert have shown a statistically significant link between elevated tissue levels of arsenic (As) and the occurrence of clinical disease states. Synchrotron-based, microbeam X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (XAFS) and X-ray fluorescence mapping (XRF) were the primary techniques used to identify As species in these tissues. Specimens have been analyzed from a mining-impacted area (Kelly-Rand Mining district, Kern County), and from sites on or adjacent to military bases (National Training Center, Ft Irwin, and Edwards AFB). XRF maps showed that scute sections sliced perpendicular to the exposed surface contain one or more diffuse bands of As(III) coordinated by oxygen instead of sulfur. This As(III) species is identical in all individuals, suggesting that it represents metabolized As. In contrast, the exterior surface and edges of scute sections contained As-rich particles of varying oxidation state and species, suggesting an exogenous origin. Particles contained reduced As in sulfides (Cu sulfide or arsenide) and As(V) in ferric sulfates and/or ferric arsenates. XAFS spectra of many As(V)-rich particles were close visual matches to spectra of known arsenic-bearing minerals or phases such as scorodite, jarosite, and arsenic adsorbed to iron (hydr)oxides. At least one, and more commonly 3-5 exogeneous As-rich particles were found in the formalin-preserved lung tissue sections examined, suggesting that such particles were relatively common. Pentavalent As was observed in forms similar to those encountered on scute sections. As(III) was observed in

  2. Effects of wind energy production on growth, demography, and survivorship of a Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) population in Southern California with comparisons to natural populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lovich, J.E.; Ennen, J.R.; Madrak, S.; Meyer, K.; Loughran, C.; Bjurlin, C.; Arundel, T.; Turner, W.; Jones, C.; Groenendaal, G.M.

    2011-01-01

    We studied a Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) population at a large wind energy generation facility near Palm Springs, California over six field seasons from 1997 to 2010. We compared growth and demographic parameters to populations living in less disturbed areas; as well as populations of the closely-related and newly-described G. morafkai elsewhere in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. We marked 69 individuals of all size classes and estimated a population size of 96 tortoises, or about 15.4/km2. Growth rates for males were lower than reported elsewhere, although maximum body size was larger. The smallest female with shelled eggs was 221 mm and males mature at over 200 mm. Mean male size was greater than that of females. The adult sex ratio was not significantly different from unity. Size frequency histograms were similar over time and when compared to most, but not all, G. morafkai populations in the Sonoran Desert. For a cohort of adult females, we estimated mortality at 8.4% annually due, in part, to site operations. This value was low in comparison to many other populations during the same time period. Other than possible differences in growth rate of males and the high survivorship of females, there appear to be few differences between this population and those in more natural areas. The high productivity of food plants at the site and its limited public access may contribute to the overall stability of the population. However, the effects of utility-scale renewable energy development on tortoises in other, less productive, areas are unknown. Additional research (especially controlled and replicated before and after studies) is urgently needed to address this deficiency because of forecasted expansion of utility-scale renewable energy development in the future.

  3. A quantitative PCR method for assessing the presence of Pasteurella testudinis DNA in nasal lavage samples from the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

    PubMed

    duPre', S A; Tracy, C R; Sandmeier, F C; Hunter, K W

    2012-12-01

    Pasteurella testudinis has been associated with upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in the threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Our goal was to develop a sensitive and specific qPCR method for detecting DNA from P. testudinis in nasal lavage fluid collected from desert tortoises in the field. Probes for 16S ribosomal RNA and RNA polymerase β-subunit (rpoB) genes were designed. A standard curve generated with DNA extracted from known numbers of bacterial cells determined by flow cytometry revealed a lower detection limit of 50 fg/ml (10 bacteria/ml). The nasal lavage fluid contained no interfering substances, and the qPCR method did not recognize normal flora DNA. The nasal lavage samples from 20 desert tortoises captured in Clark County, Nevada, USA in 2007 and housed at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, were all positive for P. testudinis DNA by qPCR. Another set of 19 lavage samples collected in 2010 from wild desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert were tested and 84% were positive for P. testudinis DNA. Fully validated, this qPCR method will provide a means of determining colonization rate. When used in conjunction with serological methods and clinical evaluations, both infection rate and disease rate can be determined for this potential URTD pathogen. This new assay provides an important tool for managing the threatened populations of the Mojave Desert tortoise. PMID:23000631

  4. Turtles and culverts, and alternative energy development: an unreported but potentially significant mortality threat to the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lovich, J.E.; Ennen, J.R.; Madrak, S.; Grover, B.

    2011-01-01

    Culverts are often used to increase the permeability of roaded landscapes for wildlife, including turtles. Although the benefits of culverts as safe passages for turtles are well documented, under some conditions culverts can entrap them and cause mortality. Here we report a culvert-related mortality in the federally threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) at a wind energy facility in California and offer simple recommendations to mitigate the negative effects of culverts for wildlife in general.

  5. A genetic assessment of the recovery units for the mojave population of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Murphy, R.W.; Berry, K.H.; Edwards, T.; McLuckie, A.M.

    2007-01-01

    In the 1994 Recovery Plan for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, the US Fish and Wildlife Service established 6 recovery units by using the best available data on habitat use, behavior, morphology, and genetics. To further assess the validity of the recovery units, we analyzed genetic data by using mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (mtDNA) sequences and nuclear DNA microsatellites. In total, 125 desert tortoises were sampled for mtDNA and 628 for microsatellites from 31 study sites, representing all recovery units and desert regions throughout the Mojave Desert in California and Utah, and the Colorado Desert of California. The mtDNA revealed a great divergence between the Mojave populations west of the Colorado River and those occurring east of the river in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Some divergence also occurred between northern and southern populations within the Mojave population. The microsatellites indicated a low frequency of private alleles and a significant correlation between genetic and geographic distance among 31 sample sites, which was consistent with an isolation-by-distance population structure. Regional genetic differentiation was complementary to the recovery units in the Recovery Plan. Most allelic frequencies in the recovery units differed. An assignment test correctly placed most individuals to their recovery unit of origin. Of the 6 recovery units, the Northeastern and the Upper Virgin River units showed the greatest differentiation; these units may have been relatively more isolated than other areas and should be managed accordingly. The Western Mojave Recovery Unit, by using the new genetic data, was redefined along regional boundaries into the Western Mojave, Central Mojave, and Southern Mojave recovery units. Large-scale translocations of tortoises and habitat disturbance throughout the 20th century may have contributed to the observed patterns of regional similarity. ?? 2007 Chelonian Research

  6. Surveys for desert tortoise on the proposed site of a high-level nuclear waste repository at the Nevada Test Site

    SciTech Connect

    Collins, E.; Sauls, M.L.; O`Farrell, T.P.

    1983-12-31

    The National Waste Terminal Storage Program is a national search for suitable sites to isolate commercial spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste. The Nevada Nuclear Waste Storage Investigation (NNWSI) managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Nevada Operations Office, was initiated to study the suitability of a portion of Yucca Mountain on the DOE`s Nevada Test Site (NTS) as a location for such a repository. EG and G was contracted to provide information concerning the ecosystems encountered on the site. A comprehensive literature survey was conducted to evaluate the status and completeness of the existing biological information for the previously undisturbed area. Site specific studies were begun in 1981 when preliminary field surveys confirmed the presence of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizi) within the project area FY82 studies were designed to determine the overall distribution and abundance of the tortoise within the area likely to be impacted by NNWSI activities. The Yucca Mountain area of the Nevada Test Site is situated close to the northern range limit of the desert tortoise. Prior to the 1982 surveys, the desert tortoise was reported from only nine locations on NTS. A known population had been under study in Rock Valley about 25 miles southeast of the project area. However, the distribution and population densities of tortoise in the southwest portion of NTS were virtually unknown. Results of our surveys indicate that desert tortoise can be expected, albeit in small numbers, in a wide range of Mojavean and Transitional habitats.

  7. Abundance and distribution of selected elements in soils, stream sediments, and selected forage plants from desert tortoise habitats in the Mojave and Colorado deserts, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Chaffee, M.A.; Berry, K.H.

    2006-01-01

    A baseline and background chemical survey was conducted in southeastern California, USA, to identify potential sources of toxicants in natural and anthropogenically-altered habitats of the threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Soil, stream sediment, and plant samples were collected from six tortoise habitat study areas in the Mojave and Colorado deserts and analysed for up to 66 different elements. The chemical analyses provided new information on the abundances and distributions of selected elements in this region. Soil, stream-sediment, and plant analyses showed distinct variations in bulk chemistries from locality to locality. Variations were, in general, consistent with the many types of exposed rock units in the region, their highly variable bulk mineralogies, and chemical contents. Of elements in soils that might have been toxic to tortoises, only As seemed to be anomalous region-wide. Some soil and plant anomalies were clearly anthropogenic. In the Rand and Atolia mining districts, soil anomalies for As, Au, Cd, Hg, Sb, and(or) W and plant anomalies for As, Sb, and(or) W extend as far as ???15 km outward from the present area of mining; soils containing anomalous Hg were found at least 6 km away from old piles of tailings. The anomalous concentrations of As and Hg may have been the source of elevated levels of these elements found in ill tortoises from the region. In the Goldstone mining district, soil anomalies extended several km from the mining area. These areas probably represented anthropogenic surface contamination of dust redistributed by wind, vehicles, and rainfall. One of two study areas transected by a paved road (Chemehuevi Valley) showed weakly elevated levels of Pb, which extended as far as ???22 m from the pavement edge and were probably related to vehicle exhaust. No soil or plant samples from historically used military areas (Goldstone, Goffs, Chemehuevi Valley, Chuckwalla Bench) contained anomalous concentrations of the elements

  8. Factors affecting the thermal environment of Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) cover sites in the Central Mojave Desert during periods of temperature extremes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Mack, Jeremy S.; Berry, Kristin H.; Miller, David; Carlson, Andrea S.

    2015-01-01

    Agassiz's Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) spend >95% of their lives underground in cover sites that serve as thermal buffers from temperatures, which can fluctuate >40°C on a daily and seasonal basis. We monitored temperatures at 30 active tortoise cover sites within the Soda Mountains, San Bernardino County, California, from February 2004 to September 2006. Cover sites varied in type and structural characteristics, including opening height and width, soil cover depth over the opening, aspect, tunnel length, and surficial geology. We focused our analyses on periods of extreme temperature: in summer, between July 1 and September 1, and winter, between November 1 and February 15. With the use of multivariate regression tree analyses, we found cover-site temperatures were influenced largely by tunnel length and subsequently opening width and soil cover. Linear regression models further showed that increasing tunnel length increased temperature stability and dampened seasonal temperature extremes. Climate change models predict increased warming for southwestern North America. Cover sites that buffer temperature extremes and fluctuations will become increasingly important for survival of tortoises. In planning future translocation projects and conservation efforts, decision makers should consider habitats with terrain and underlying substrate that sustain cover sites with long tunnels and expanded openings for tortoises living under temperature extremes similar to those described here or as projected in the future.

  9. Long-term and per rectum disposition of Clarithromycin in the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

    PubMed

    Wimsatt, Jeffrey; Tothill, Alysa; Offermann, Cord F; Sheehy, Jenifer G; Peloquin, Charles A

    2008-07-01

    The macrolide antibiotic clarithromycin (CLARI) has a wide spectrum of activity and efficacy for Mycoplasma species. In addition, CLARI accumulates during re-dosing of Mojave desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). Here, we characterized plasma concentrations after a single dose, after 3.5 months of dosing, and after per rectum administration; all doses were 15 mg/kg. After a single dose, the median maximal plasma concentration (Cmax) was 1.69 mg/ml and occurred at a median of 6 h after administration, the estimated elimination half-life was 6.9 h, and the median accumulation index was 10%. Plasma concentrations after long-term dosing showed consistent intraturtle concentrations of at least 2 microg/ml, with 1 turtle showing increasing accumulation of CLARI at all 3 time points and the remaining 5 turtles showing increases by 3.5 mo. Compared with expected Cmax values, the median long-term values were approximately 3 times higher than expected in 4 of 6 turtles and approximately 2/3 of that expected in the remaining 2 turtles. Per rectum dosing caused antibiotic retention below target values. Together, these results support accumulation of CLARI after repeated oral dosing and indicate that stable concentrations are reached long-term. Either cystoenteric recycling of CLARI or large intestinal absorption of bypass CLARI may explain the observed cumulative increases. In addition, twice-weekly CLARI maintains target concentrations over time, and per rectum dosing will require higher doses or increased dose frequency to be successful. Based on this work, pharmacokinetic studies in exotic species should include multidose studies to verify initial kinetic estimates from single-dose trends. PMID:18702450

  10. Long-term and Per Rectum Disposition of Clarithromycin in the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

    PubMed Central

    Wimsatt, Jeffrey; Tothill, Alysa; Offermann, Cord F; Sheehy, Jenifer G; Peloquin, Charles A

    2008-01-01

    The macrolide antibiotic clarithromycin (CLARI) has a wide spectrum of activity and efficacy for Mycoplasma species. In addition, CLARI accumulates during re-dosing of Mojave desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). Here, we characterized plasma concentrations after a single dose, after 3.5 months of dosing, and after per rectum administration; all doses were 15 mg/kg. After a single dose, the median maximal plasma concentration (Cmax) was 1.69 mg/ml and occurred at a median of 6 h after administration, the estimated elimination half-life was 6.9 h, and the median accumulation index was 10%. Plasma concentrations after long-term dosing showed consistent intraturtle concentrations of at least 2 μg/ml, with 1 turtle showing increasing accumulation of CLARI at all 3 time points and the remaining 5 turtles showing increases by 3.5 mo. Compared with expected Cmax values, the median long-term values were approximately 3 times higher than expected in 4 of 6 turtles and approximately 2/3 of that expected in the remaining 2 turtles. Per rectum dosing caused antibiotic retention below target values. Together, these results support accumulation of CLARI after repeated oral dosing and indicate that stable concentrations are reached long-term. Either cystoenteric recycling of CLARI or large intestinal absorption of bypass CLARI may explain the observed cumulative increases. In addition, twice-weekly CLARI maintains target concentrations over time, and per rectum dosing will require higher doses or increased dose frequency to be successful. Based on this work, pharmacokinetic studies in exotic species should include multidose studies to verify initial kinetic estimates from single-dose trends. PMID:18702450

  11. Mycoplasmal upper respiratory tract disease across the range of the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise: associations with thermal regime and natural antibodies.

    PubMed

    Sandmeier, Franziska C; Tracy, C Richard; Hagerty, Bridgette E; DuPré, Sally; Mohammadpour, Hamid; Hunter, Kenneth

    2013-03-01

    Most research of upper respiratory tract disease (mycoplasmal URTD) in the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) has worked under the hypothesis that the pathogen, Mycoplasma agassizii, has a relatively consistent and predictable effect on tortoise populations across their natural range. In contrast, we hypothesized that multiple factors influence the prevalence of disease and analyzed biological and environmental variables that vary significantly across the Mojave Desert. We used multiple regression models to analyze associations between mycoplasmal URTD and the genetic structure of 24 tortoise populations, levels of natural antibody (NAb) to M. agassizii in tortoises (one component of the innate immune system), precipitation, and colder thermal regimes. We detected a significant, positive association between mean levels of NAb and seroprevalence to M. agassizii. We hypothesized that NAbs may provide tolerance to mycoplasmal infections and that more tolerant populations may act as host reservoirs of disease. We also detected significant associations between colder winters and mycoplasmal URTD, suggesting that colder winters may depress tortoise immune resistance against M. agassizii or enhance conditions for the growth of M. agassizii. PMID:23579813

  12. Female Agassiz’s desert tortoise activity at a wind energy facility in southern California: The influence of an El Niño event

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ennen, Josh R.; Meyer-Wilkins, Kathie; Lovich, Jeffrey

    2012-01-01

    We compared spring-summer activity of adult female Agassiz’s Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) among three consecutive years (1997, 1998, and 1999) that differed dramatically in winter rainfall and annual plant production at a wind energy facility in the Sonoran Desert of southern California. Winter rainfall was approximately 71%, 190%, and 17% of the long-term average (October-March = 114 mm) for this area in water years (WY) 1997, 1998, and 1999, respectively. The substantial precipitation caused by an El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event in WY 1998 produced a generous annual food plant supply (138.2 g dry biomass/ m2) in the spring. Primary production of winter annuals during below average rainfall years (WY 1997 and WY 1999) was reduced to 98.3 and 0.2 g/m2, respectively. Mean rates of movement and mean body condition indices (mass/length) did not differ significantly among the years. The drought year following ENSO (WY 1999) was statistically similar to ENSO in every other measured value, while WY 1997 (end of a two year drought) was statistically different from ENSO using activity area, minimum number of burrows used, and percentage of non-movements. Our data suggest that female G. agassizii activity can be influenced by environmental conditions in previous years.

  13. Disease dynamics during wildlife translocations: disruptions to the host population and potential consequences for transmission in desert tortoise contact networks

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Aiello, Christina M.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Walde, Andrew D.; Esque, Todd C.; Emblidge, Patrick G.; Sah, Pratha; Bansal, S.; Hudson, Peter J.

    2014-01-01

    Wildlife managers consider animal translocation a means of increasing the viability of a local population. However, augmentation may disrupt existing resident disease dynamics and initiate an outbreak that would effectively offset any advantages the translocation may have achieved. This paper examines fundamental concepts of disease ecology and identifies the conditions that will increase the likelihood of a disease outbreak following translocation. We highlight the importance of susceptibility to infection, population size and population connectivity – a characteristic likely affected by translocation but not often considered in risk assessments – in estimating outbreak risk due to translocation. We then explore these features in a species of conservation concern often translocated in the presence of infectious disease, the Mojave Desert tortoise, and use data from experimental tortoise translocations to detect changes in population connectivity that may influence pathogen transmission. Preliminary analyses comparing contact networks inferred from spatial data at control and translocation plots and infection simulation results through these networks suggest increased outbreak risk following translocation due to dispersal-driven changes in contact frequency and network structure. We outline future research goals to test these concepts and aid managers in designing effective risk assessment and intervention strategies that will improve translocation success.

  14. A new species of Isospora Schneider, 1881 (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from Morafka's desert tortoise Gopherus morafkai (Testudines: Testudinidae).

    PubMed

    Hnida, John A

    2015-11-01

    Isospora gopheri n. sp. (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) is described from 5 of 28 (18%) Morafka's desert tortoise Gopherus morafkai Murphy, Berry, Edwards, Leviton, Lathrop & Readle, housed by the Phoenix Herpetological Society, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. Sporulated oöcysts of this new species were spheroidal to subspheroidal, 20-27 × 19-27 (23.0 × 21.7) µm, with a smooth, bi-layered wall and 1-3 polar granules; an oöcyst residuum was absent. Sporocysts were elongate-ovoidal to ellipsoidal, 13-18 × 9-12 (15.9 × 10.2) µm, with a Stieda body, sub-Stieda body and sporocyst residuum; sporozoites were banana-shaped with an ellipsoidal posterior refractile body and a spheroidal anterior refractile body. This is both the first coccidian to be described from this host species and only the second reported from the host genus. PMID:26446544

  15. Laser ablation ICP-MS profiling and semiquantitative determination of trace element concentrations in desert tortoise shells: Documenting the uptake of elemental toxicants

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Seltzer, M.D.; Berry, K.H.

    2005-01-01

    The outer keratin layer (scute) of desert tortoise shells consists of incrementally grown laminae in which various bioaccumulated trace elements are sequestered during scute deposition. Laser ablation ICP-MS examination of laminae in scutes of dead tortoises revealed patterns of trace elemental distribution from which the chronology of elemental uptake can be inferred. These patterns may be of pathologic significance in the case of elemental toxicants such as arsenic, which has been linked to both shell and respiratory diseases. Laser ablation transects, performed along the lateral surfaces of sectioned scutes, offered the most successful means of avoiding exogenous contamination that was present on the scute exterior. Semiquantitative determination of elemental concentrations was achieved using sulfur, a keratin matrix element, as an internal standard. The results presented here highlight the potential of laser ablation ICP-MS as a diagnostic tool for investigating toxic element uptake as it pertains to tortoise morbidity and mortality.

  16. Laser ablation ICP-MS profiling and semiquantitative determination of trace element concentrations in desert tortoise shells: documenting the uptake of elemental toxicants.

    PubMed

    Seltzer, Michaeld; Berry, Kristinh

    2005-03-01

    The outer keratin layer (scute) of desert tortoise shells consists of incrementally grown laminae in which various bioaccumulated trace elements are sequestered during scute deposition. Laser ablation ICP-MS examination of laminae in scutes of dead tortoises revealed patterns of trace elemental distribution from which the chronology of elemental uptake can be inferred. These patterns may be of pathologic significance in the case of elemental toxicants such as arsenic, which has been linked to both shell and respiratory diseases. Laser ablation transects, performed along the lateral surfaces of sectioned scutes, offered the most successful means of avoiding exogenous contamination that was present on the scute exterior. Semiquantitative determination of elemental concentrations was achieved using sulfur, a keratin matrix element, as an internal standard. The results presented here highlight the potential of laser ablation ICP-MS as a diagnostic tool for investigating toxic element uptake as it pertains to tortoise morbidity and mortality. PMID:15740773

  17. Shaping species with ephemeral boundaries: The distribution and genetic structure of desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) in the Sonoran Desert region

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Taylor; Vaughn, Mercy; Rosen, Philip C.; Torres, Ma. Cristina Melendez; Karl, Alice E.; Culver, Melanie; Murphy, Robert W.

    2015-01-01

    The historically shifting ecotone between tropical deciduous forest and Sonoran desertscrub appears to be a boundary that fostered divergence between parapatric lineages of tortoises. The sharp genetic cline between the two lineages suggests that periods of isolation in temporary refugia due to Pleistocene climatic cycling influenced divergence. Despite incomplete reproductive isolation, the Sonoran and Sinaloan lineages of G. morafkai are on separate evolutionary trajectories.

  18. Hematological values for adult eastern Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni boettgeri) in semi-natural conditions.

    PubMed

    Bielli, Mattia; Nardini, Giordano; Di Girolamo, Nicola; Savarino, Paolo

    2015-01-01

    Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is considered near threatened in the wild but, by contrast, it is one of the most popular pet tortoises in Europe. Scant data is reported in the veterinary literature on hematological values for T. hermanni and, to our knowledge, none focused on the subspecies boettgeri (eastern Hermann's tortoise). Published reports are based on small sample populations, and confusion arises when comparing the sampling sites, the anticoagulants, and the counting methods used. The purpose of the current study was to establish the normal mean values and reference intervals for the main hematological parameters for captive adult T. hermanni boettgeri and to evaluate the reliability of a semiautomated blood analyzer for red blood cell count and hematocrit determination. Blood values were determined in 23 adult tortoises using a Neubauer chamber with Natt and Herrick solution; red blood cells and hematocrit were also measured using a semiautomated blood analyzer. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, differences between sexes, and agreement between the counting methods. Reference intervals were calculated with the robust method. Wilcoxon signed rank test with continuity correction was used to investigate differences between sexes, and Bland-Altman analysis was performed to compare manual versus semiautomated values. Red blood cells, hematocrit, and hemoglobin determinations were significantly higher in males than in females. White blood cell counts did not show any sex variability. The agreement of manual versus semiautomated determination was considered acceptable for clinical use. PMID:25525140

  19. Nest site characteristics, nesting movements, and lack of long-term nest site fidelity in Agassiz's desert tortoises at a wind energy facility in southern California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Agha, Mickey; Yackulic, Charles B.; Meyer-Wilkins, Kathie; Bjurlin, Curtis; Ennen, Joshua R.; Arundel, Terry R.; Austin, Meaghan

    2014-01-01

    Nest site selection has important consequences for maternal and offspring survival and fitness. Females of some species return to the same nesting areas year after year. We studied nest site characteristics, fidelity, and daily pre-nesting movements in a population of Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) at a wind energy facility in southern California during two field seasons separated by over a decade. No females returned to the same exact nest site within or between years but several nested in the same general area. However, distances between first and second clutches within a year (2000) were not significantly different from distances between nests among years (2000 and 2011) for a small sample of females, suggesting some degree of fidelity within their normal activity areas. Environmental attributes of nest sites did not differ significantly among females but did among years due largely to changes in perennial plant structure as a result of multiple fires. Daily pre-nesting distances moved by females decreased consistently from the time shelled eggs were first visible in X-radiographs until oviposition, again suggesting some degree of nest site selection. Tortoises appear to select nest sites that are within their long-term activity areas, inside the climate-moderated confines of one of their self-constructed burrows, and specifically, at a depth in the burrow that minimizes exposure of eggs and embryos to lethal incubation temperatures. Nesting in “climate-controlled” burrows and nest guarding by females relaxes some of the constraints that drive nest site selection in other oviparous species.

  20. A 30-year chronosequence of burned areas in Arizona: effects of wildfires on vegetation in Sonoran Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) habitats

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shryock, Daniel F.; Esque, Todd C.; Chen, Felicia C.

    2015-01-01

    Fire is widely regarded as a key evolutionary force in fire-prone ecosystems, with effects spanning multiple levels of organization, from species and functional group composition through landscape-scale vegetation structure, biomass, and diversity (Pausas and others, 2004; Bond and Keeley 2005; Pausas and Verdu, 2008). Ecosystems subjected to novel fire regimes may experience profound changes that are difficult to predict, including persistent losses of vegetation cover and diversity (McLaughlin and Bowers, 1982; Brown and Minnich, 1986; Brooks, 2012), losses to seed banks (Esque and others, 2010a), changes in demographic processes (Esque and others, 2004; DeFalco and others, 2010), increased erosion (Soulard and others, 2013), changes in nutrient availability (Esque and others, 2010b), increased dominance of invasive species (Esque and others, 2002; Brooks and others, 2004), and transitions to alternative community states (Davies and others, 2012). In the deserts of the Southwestern United States, fire size and frequency have increased substantially over the last several decades because of an invasive grass/fire feedback cycle (Schmid and Rogers, 1988; D’Antonio and Vitousek, 1992; Swantek and others, 1999; Brooks and Matchett, 2006; Esque and others, 2010a), in which invasive annual species are able to establish fuel loads capable of sustaining large-scale wildfires following years of high rainfall (Esque and Schwalbe, 2002). Native perennial vegetation is not well-adapted to fire in these environments, and widespread, physiognomically dominant species such as creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia), giant saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea), and paloverde (Parkinsonia spp.) may be reduced or eliminated (Brown and Minnich, 1986; Esque and others, 2006; DeFalco and others, 2010), potentially affecting wildlife populations including the Sonoran and federally threatened Mojave Desert Tortoises (Gopherus morafkai and Gopherus agassizii

  1. Nevada Test Site tortoise population monitoring study. Final report

    SciTech Connect

    Mueller, J.M.; Zander, K.K.

    1994-12-01

    A Tortoise Population Monitoring Study was initiated to determine and monitor the density of desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) on the Nevada Test Site. Quadrat sampling was conducted following methodology described in the Draft Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan (FWS, 1993). So few tortoises were found that densities could not be calculated. Based on estimates of capture probabilities and densities from other studies, it was determined that 1-km{sup 2} (0.4 mi{sup 2}) plots did not contain enough tortoises for estimating densities with the Recovery Plan methods. It was recommended that additional surveys on the Nevada Test Site using those methods not be conducted. Any future efforts to monitor desert tortoise densities should start by identifying other possible methods, determining their relative power to detect changes, and estimating their cost.

  2. Daily energy expenditure in free-ranging Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jodice, P.G.R.; Epperson, D.M.; Visser, G.H.

    2006-01-01

    Studies of ecological energetics in chelonians are rare. Here, we report the first measurements of daily energy expenditure (DEE) and water influx rates (WIRs) in free-ranging adult Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). We used the doubly labeled water (DLW) method to measure DEE in six adult tortoises during the non-breeding season in south-central Mississippi, USA. Tortoise DEE ranged from 76.7-187.5 kj/day and WIR ranged from 30.6-93.1 ml H2O/day. Daily energy expenditure did not differ between the sexes, but DEE was positively related to body mass. Water influx rates varied with the interaction of sex and body mass. We used a log/log regression model to assess the allometric relationship between DEE and body mass for Gopher Tortoises, Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), and Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina), the only chelonians for which DEE has been measured. The slope of this allometric model (0.626) was less than that previously calculated for herbivorous reptiles (0.813), suggesting that chelonians may expend energy at a slower rate per unit of body mass compared to other herbivorous reptiles. We used retrospective power analyses and data from the DLW isotope analyses to develop guidelines for sample sizes and duration of measurement intervals, respectively, for larger-scale energetic studies in this species. ?? 2006 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

  3. Salmonella from gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in south Georgia.

    PubMed

    Lockhart, J Mitchell; Lee, Gregory; Turco, Jenifer; Chamberlin, Linda

    2008-10-01

    From 2002 to 2006, gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) were collected at Moody Air Force Base, Lowndes/Lanier counties, Georgia, USA, and opportunistically surveyed for the presence of Salmonella species. Four of 155 (2.6%) cloacal swabs collected from 80 tortoises were positive for the presence of Salmonella enterica, and the following serovars were identified: Give, Hartford, Javiana, and Luciana. Female tortoises (5%) were infected at a rate similar to male tortoises (5%). All isolates were obtained from adult tortoises (n = 73); subadults (n = 7) were all negative. Each isolated serovar is a potential human pathogen, suggesting appropriate precautions should be emphasized when handling these animals. PMID:18957656

  4. Are captive tortoises a reservoir for conservation? An assessment of genealogical affiliation of captive Gopherus agassizii to local, wild populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Berry, Kristin H.; Edwards, Taylor

    2013-01-01

    The conservation of tortoises poses a unique situation because several threatened species are commonly kept as pets within their native ranges. Thus, there is potential for captive populations to be a reservoir for repatriation efforts. We assess the utility of captive populations of the threatened Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) for recovery efforts based on genetic affinity to local areas. We collected samples from 130 captive desert tortoises from three desert communities: two in California (Ridgecrest and Joshua Tree) and the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (Las Vegas) in Nevada. We tested all samples for 25 short tandem repeats and sequenced 1,109 bp of the mitochondrial genome. We compared captive genotypes to a database of 1,258 Gopherus samples, including 657 wild caught G. agassizii spanning the full range of the species. We conducted population assignment tests to determine the genetic origins of the captive individuals. For our total sample set, only 44 % of captive individuals were assigned to local populations based on genetic units derived from the reference database. One individual from Joshua Tree, California, was identified as being a Morafka’s desert tortoise, G. morafkai, a cryptic species which is not native to the Mojave Desert. Our data suggest that captive desert tortoises kept within the native range of G. agassizii cannot be presumed to have a genealogical affiliation to wild tortoises in their geographic proximity. Precautions should be taken before considering the release of captive tortoises into the wild as a management tool for recovery.

  5. Field Verification of the Prediction Model on Desert Locust Adult Phase Status From Density and Vegetation

    PubMed Central

    Cissé, S.; Ghaout, S.; Babah Ebbe, M. A; Kamara, S; Piou, C.

    2016-01-01

    Previous studies investigated the effect of vegetation on density thresholds of adult Desert Locust gregarization from historical data in Mauritania. We examine here the prediction of locust phase based on adult density and vegetation conditions using the statistical model from Cisse et al. compared with actual behavior of Desert Locust adults observed in the field in Mauritania. From the 130 sites where adult locusts were found, the model predicted the phase of Desert Locust adults with a relatively small error of prediction of 6.1%. Preventive locust control should be rational, based on a risk assessment. The staff involved in implementation of the preventive control strategy needs specific indicators for when or where chemical treatment should be done. In this respect, we show here that the statistical model of Cisse et al. may be appropriate. PMID:27432351

  6. Field Verification of the Prediction Model on Desert Locust Adult Phase Status From Density and Vegetation.

    PubMed

    Cissé, S; Ghaout, S; Babah Ebbe, M A; Kamara, S; Piou, C

    2016-01-01

    Previous studies investigated the effect of vegetation on density thresholds of adult Desert Locust gregarization from historical data in Mauritania. We examine here the prediction of locust phase based on adult density and vegetation conditions using the statistical model from Cisse et al. compared with actual behavior of Desert Locust adults observed in the field in Mauritania. From the 130 sites where adult locusts were found, the model predicted the phase of Desert Locust adults with a relatively small error of prediction of 6.1%. Preventive locust control should be rational, based on a risk assessment. The staff involved in implementation of the preventive control strategy needs specific indicators for when or where chemical treatment should be done. In this respect, we show here that the statistical model of Cisse et al. may be appropriate. PMID:27432351

  7. Morphometrics, sexual dimorphism, and growth in the Angonoka tortoise (Geochelone yniphora) of western Madagascar

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Smith, Lora L.; Pedrono, Miguel; Dorazio, Robert M.; Bishko, Jack

    2001-01-01

    The most recent description of the morphology of the rare endemic Madagascar tortoise,Geochelone yniphora was based on fewer than 20 specimens. We collected morphological data for 200 free‐ranging tortoises from five populations over a four‐year period. Tortoises ranged in size from 43.5 mm carapace length at hatching to a maximum of 481 mm in an adult male. We were able to develop a logistic regression model to predict the sex of adult tortoises in one of the five populations using principal component analysis; the model correctly predicted the sex of 25 of 26 adult tortoises. Growth of 40 tortoises was monitored and as in other chelonians, the annual relative growth rate decreased with age. The relative growth rate in adults was approximately 5% per year as compared to approximately 16% in juveniles. Juvenile tortoises accrued one scute growth layer per year.

  8. Mass spectral determination of phenylacetonitrile (PAN) levels in body tissues of adult desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    : Wings and legs of the gregarious desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria have been shown to be release sites of phenylacetonitrile (PAN), the major adult male-produced pheromone. However, there is limited information on the distribution of PAN within the locust. Here we show, using gas chromatograph...

  9. Nutritional parameters and chronic energy deficiency in older adults of desert areas of western Rajasthan, India.

    PubMed

    Arlappa, N; Rao, K Mallikarjuna; Venkaiah, K; Brahmam, G N V; Vijayaraghavan, K

    2009-01-01

    Nutritional status was assessed in 212 older individuals (> or =60 years of age) in a cross - sectional study carried out in desert areas of western Rajasthan during 2003. Heights and weights were recorded and a family diet survey (one-day, 24-hour recall) was carried out in 200 households (HHs) from 20 villages. Body Mass Index (BMI) was used to classify nutritional status. The prevalence of Chronic Energy Deficiency (CED = BMI < 18.5) was > or = 40% in desert areas of India, indicating a "very high" public health problem. It was higher among older women (52%) compared with men (42.4%) and higher in those belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and in HHs of laborers, artisans, landless individuals, marginal farmers, and below poverty line families. CED did not differ (statistically) between the desert and plain areas of Rajasthan. CED prevalence among older adults in desert areas was actually lower (p < 0.001) than that found in their rural and tribal counterparts. Intervention programs initiated by the government may explain this finding. Our findings support the conclusion that regular nutritional monitoring of older adults in desert and drought prone areas is needed and can help appropriately target the need for intervention measures. PMID:19234995

  10. Upper Respiratory Tract Disease in the Gopher Tortoise Is Caused by Mycoplasma agassizii†

    PubMed Central

    Brown, M. B.; McLaughlin, G. S.; Klein, P. A.; Crenshaw, B. C.; Schumacher, I. M.; Brown, D. R.; Jacobson, E. R.

    1999-01-01

    Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) has been observed in a number of tortoise species, including the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). Clinical signs of URTD in gopher tortoises are similar to those in desert tortoises and include serous, mucoid, or purulent discharge from the nares, excessive tearing to purulent ocular discharge, conjunctivitis, and edema of the eyelids and ocular glands. The objectives of the present study were to determine if Mycoplasma agassizii was an etiologic agent of URTD in the gopher tortoise and to determine the clinical course of the experimental infection in a dose-response infection study. Tortoises were inoculated intranasally with 0.5 ml (0.25 ml/nostril) of either sterile SP4 broth (control group; n = 10) or 108 color-changing units (CCU) (total dose) of M. agassizii 723 (experimental infection group; n = 9). M. agassizii caused clinical signs compatible with those observed in tortoises with natural infections. Clinical signs of URTD were evident in seven of nine experimentally infected tortoises by 4 weeks postinfection (p.i.) and in eight of nine experimentally infected tortoises by 8 weeks p.i. In the dose-response experiments, tortoises were inoculated intranasally with a low (101 CCU; n = 6), medium (103 CCU; n = 6), or high (105 CCU; n = 5) dose of M. agassizii 723 or with sterile SP4 broth (n = 10). At all time points p.i. in both experiments, M. agassizii could be isolated from the nares of at least 50% of the tortoises. All of the experimentally infected tortoises seroconverted, and levels of antibody were statistically higher in infected animals than in control animals for all time points of >4 weeks p.i. (P < 0.0001). Control tortoises in both experiments did not show clinical signs, did not seroconvert, and did not have detectable M. agassizii by either culture or PCR at any point in the study. Histological lesions were compatible with those observed in tortoises with

  11. Upper respiratory tract disease in the gopher tortoise is caused by Mycoplasma agassizii.

    PubMed

    Brown, M B; McLaughlin, G S; Klein, P A; Crenshaw, B C; Schumacher, I M; Brown, D R; Jacobson, E R

    1999-07-01

    Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) has been observed in a number of tortoise species, including the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). Clinical signs of URTD in gopher tortoises are similar to those in desert tortoises and include serous, mucoid, or purulent discharge from the nares, excessive tearing to purulent ocular discharge, conjunctivitis, and edema of the eyelids and ocular glands. The objectives of the present study were to determine if Mycoplasma agassizii was an etiologic agent of URTD in the gopher tortoise and to determine the clinical course of the experimental infection in a dose-response infection study. Tortoises were inoculated intranasally with 0.5 ml (0.25 ml/nostril) of either sterile SP4 broth (control group; n = 10) or 10(8) color-changing units (CCU) (total dose) of M. agassizii 723 (experimental infection group; n = 9). M. agassizii caused clinical signs compatible with those observed in tortoises with natural infections. Clinical signs of URTD were evident in seven of nine experimentally infected tortoises by 4 weeks postinfection (p.i.) and in eight of nine experimentally infected tortoises by 8 weeks p.i. In the dose-response experiments, tortoises were inoculated intranasally with a low (10(1) CCU; n = 6), medium (10(3) CCU; n = 6), or high (10(5) CCU; n = 5) dose of M. agassizii 723 or with sterile SP4 broth (n = 10). At all time points p.i. in both experiments, M. agassizii could be isolated from the nares of at least 50% of the tortoises. All of the experimentally infected tortoises seroconverted, and levels of antibody were statistically higher in infected animals than in control animals for all time points of >4 weeks p.i. (P < 0.0001). Control tortoises in both experiments did not show clinical signs, did not seroconvert, and did not have detectable M. agassizii by either culture or PCR at any point in the study. Histological lesions were compatible with those observed in

  12. Social behavior drives the dynamics of respiratory disease in threatened tortoises.

    PubMed

    Wendland, Lori D; Wooding, John; White, C LeAnn; Demcovitz, Dina; Littell, Ramon; Berish, Joan Diemer; Ozgul, Arpat; Oli, Madan K; Klein, Paul A; Christman, Mary C; Brown, Mary B

    2010-05-01

    Since the early 1990s, morbidity and mortality in tortoise populations have been associated with a transmissible, mycoplasmal upper respiratory tract disease (URTD). Although the etiology, transmission, and diagnosis of URTD have been extensively studied, little is known about the dynamics of disease transmission in free-ranging tortoise populations. To understand the transmission dynamics of Mycoplasma agassizii, the primary etiological agent of URTD in wild tortoise populations, we studied 11 populations of free-ranging gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus; n = 1667 individuals) over five years and determined their exposure to the pathogen by serology, by clinical signs, and by detection of the pathogen in nasal lavages. Adults tortoises (n = 759) were 11 times more likely to be seropositive than immature animals (n = 242) (odds ratio = 10.6, 95% CI = 5.7-20, P < 0.0001). Nasal discharge was observed in only 1.4% (4/296) of immature tortoises as compared with 8.6% (120/1399) of adult tortoises. Nasal lavages from all juvenile tortoises (n = 283) were negative by PCR for mycoplasmal pathogens associated with URTD. We tested for spatial segregation among tortoise burrows by size class and found no consistent evidence of clustering of either juveniles or adults. We suggest that the social behavior of tortoises plays a critical role in the spread of URTD in wild populations, with immature tortoises having minimal interactions with adult tortoises, thereby limiting their exposure to the pathogen. These findings may have broader implications for modeling horizontally transmitted diseases in other species with limited parental care and emphasize the importance of incorporating animal behavior parameters into disease transmission studies to better characterize the host-pathogen dynamics. PMID:20503858

  13. Daily microhabitat shifting of solitarious-phase Desert locust adults: implications for meaningful population monitoring.

    PubMed

    Maeno, Koutaro Ould; Ould Ely, Sidi; Nakamura, Satoshi; Abdellaoui, Khemais; Cissé, Sory; Jaavar, Mohamed El Hacen; Ould Mohamed, Sid'Ahmed; Atheimine, Mohamed; Ould Babah, Mohamed Abdallahi

    2016-01-01

    The Desert locust Schistocerca gregaria is a major world pest that causes substantial agricultural and economic damage. Effective pest control relies on effective monitoring, which requires knowledge of locust microhabitat selection. Yet little is known about microhabitat selection of solitarious adult locusts in the field. We conducted field surveys to investigate fine-scale diel temporal and spatial distributions of solitarious adults in the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, a major breeding and recession area. We found that solitarious adults moved among different, specific microhabitats throughout the 24-h period in a cyclical manner. At night, they roosted in trees, moved to the ground to feed shortly after dawn, sheltered in low vegetation during the hot midday, and returned to the ground in the late afternoon. Hence, they switched microhabitats and plant species throughout each day. These cyclical daily movements among diverse microhabitats and specific plant species were correlated with time of day, light intensity, temperature, humidity, and specific plant species, and may relate to anti-predator defence, thermoregulation, and feeding. The present study suggests that locust monitoring should be adjusted, based on time of day, locust age, phase state and relative abundance of specific plant species. For example, we recommend surveying ground after morning and trees at night, for solitarious adults, when at low density. PMID:26877905

  14. Mycoplasmosis and upper respiratory tract disease of tortoises: a review and update

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jacobson, Elliott R.; Brown, Mary B.; Wendland, Lori; Brown, Daniel R.; Klein, Paul A.; Christopher, Mary M.; Berry, Kristin H.

    2014-01-01

    Tortoise mycoplasmosis is one of the most extensively characterized infectious diseases of chelonians. A 1989 outbreak of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in free-ranging Agassiz's desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) brought together an investigative team of researchers, diagnosticians, pathologists, immunologists and clinicians from multiple institutions and agencies. Electron microscopic studies of affected tortoises revealed a microorganism in close association with the nasal mucosa that subsequently was identified as a new species, Mycoplasma agassizii. Over the next 24 years, a second causative agent, Mycoplasma testudineum, was discovered, the geographic distribution and host range of tortoise mycoplasmosis were expanded, diagnostic tests were developed and refined for antibody and pathogen detection, transmission studies confirmed the pathogenicity of the original M. agassizii isolate, clinical (and subclinical) disease and laboratory abnormalities were characterized, many extrinsic and predisposing factors were found to play a role in morbidity and mortality associated with mycoplasmal infection, and social behavior was implicated in disease transmission. The translation of scientific research into management decisions has sometimes led to undesirable outcomes, such as euthanasia of clinically healthy tortoises. In this article, we review and assess current research on tortoise mycoplasmosis, arguably the most important chronic infectious disease of wild and captive North American and European tortoises, and update the implications for management and conservation of tortoises in the wild.

  15. Habitat characteristics of North American tortoises: chapter 9

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nussear, Kenneth E.; Tuberville, Tracey D.

    2014-01-01

    North American tortoises are distributed in semi-arid and temperate deserts and coastal regions of the southern United States and Mexico. The five species currently recognized each have specific habitat requirements, which they fulfill through their selection of, and interaction with unique habitat constituents. In this chapter we discuss the physiographic and geological associations, perennial and annual vegetation components, shelter sites, and climatic conditions associated with the species’ habitats, as well as the potential threats to their habitat.

  16. Effects of mycoplasmal upper-respiratory-tract disease on movement and thermoregulatory behavior of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Georgia, USA.

    PubMed

    McGuire, Jessica L; Smith, Lora L; Guyer, Craig; Yabsley, Michael J

    2014-10-01

    Abstract From 2011-12, we studied a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) population with a historically high prevalence of antibodies to Mycoplasma agassizii to assess long-term effects of upper-respiratory-tract disease (URTD) on tortoise behavior. We radiotracked 30 adult tortoises (16 males, 14 females) from a long-term study site with the use of mark-recapture methods to determine site fidelity and to compare home-range size to that of a study in 1997. An additional 10 tortoises (six males, four females) with severe clinical signs of URTD from elsewhere in the study area were radiotracked and compared to tortoises that were asymptomatic or had only mild clinical signs. We also monitored thermoregulatory behavior of tortoises with the use of data loggers affixed to the carapace. There was no significant difference in home-range size between the asymptomatic tortoises and those with mild symptoms. Home ranges of tortoises with severe URTD were significantly larger than asymptomatic or mildly affected tortoises. Tortoises with severe clinical signs moved long distances over short periods, contradicting a hypothesis that chronically infected tortoises are less likely to emigrate. Prevalence of M. agassizii antibodies was similar among the three groups (98% overall), but prevalence of antibodies to a second pathogen associated with URTD, Mycoplasma testudineum, was lower in the asymptomatic (n=14, 7%) and mild-symptoms (n=7, 14%) groups than the severe-symptoms group (n=8, 50%). Variation in the average carapacial temperatures of tortoises with severe URTD was significantly different from carapacial temperatures of mild and asymptomatic tortoises, suggesting differences in thermoregulatory behavior of severely ill tortoises. Our 15-yr recapture data suggest that, despite high prevalence of M. agassizii, population density has not decreased over time. However, emigration, especially of tortoises with severe clinical disease, may play an important role in dispersal

  17. Assessing the potential to restore historic grazing ecosystems with tortoise ecological replacements.

    PubMed

    Griffiths, Christine J; Zuël, Nicolas; Jones, Carl G; Ahamud, Zairabee; Harris, Stephen

    2013-08-01

    The extinction of large herbivores, often keystone species, can dramatically modify plant communities and impose key biotic thresholds that may prevent an ecosystem returning to its previous state and threaten native biodiversity. A potentially innovative, yet controversial, landscape-based long-term restoration approach is to replace missing plant-herbivore interactions with non-native herbivores. Aldabran giant (Aldabrachelys gigantea) and Madagascan radiated (Astrochelys radiata) tortoises, taxonomically and functionally similar to the extinct Mauritian giant tortoises (Cylindraspis spp.), were introduced to Round Island, Mauritius, in 2007 to control the non-native plants that were threatening persistence of native species. We monitored the response of the plant community to tortoise grazing for 11 months in enclosures before the tortoises were released and, compared the cost of using tortoises as weeders with the cost of using manual labor. At the end of this period, plant biomass; vegetation height and cover; and adult, seedling, flower, and seed abundance were 3-136 times greater in adjacent control plots than in the tortoise enclosures. After their release, the free-roaming tortoises grazed on most non-native plants and significantly reduced vegetation cover, height, and seed production, reflecting findings from the enclosure study. The tortoises generally did not eat native species, although they consumed those native species that increased in abundance following the eradication of mammalian herbivores. Our results suggest that introduced non-native tortoises are a more cost-effective approach to control non-native vegetation than manual weeding. Numerous long-term outcomes (e.g., change in species composition and soil seed bank) are possible following tortoise releases. Monitoring and adaptive management are needed to ensure that the replacement herbivores promote the recovery of native plants. PMID:23773124

  18. Upper respiratory tract disease, force of infection, and effects on survival of gopher tortoises.

    PubMed

    Ozgul, Arpat; Oli, Madan K; Bolker, Benjamin M; Perez-Heydrich, Carolina

    2009-04-01

    Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) caused by Mycoplasma agassizii has been hypothesized to contribute to the decline of some wild populations of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). However, the force of infection (FOI) and the effect of URTD on survival in free-ranging tortoise populations remain unknown. Using four years (2003-2006) of mark-recapture and epidemiological data collected from 10 populations of gopher tortoises in central Florida, USA, we estimated the FOI (probability per year of a susceptible tortoise becoming infected) and the effect of URTD (i.e., seropositivity to M. agassizii) on apparent survival rates. Sites with high (> or = 25%) seroprevalence had substantially higher FOI (0.22 +/- 0.03; mean +/- SE) than low (< 25%) seroprevalence sites (0.04 +/- 0.01). Our results provide the first quantitative evidence that the rate of transmission of M. agassizii is directly related to the seroprevalence of the population. Seropositive tortoises had higher apparent survival (0.99 +/- 0.0001) than seronegatives (0.88 +/- 0.03), possibly because seropositive tortoises represent individuals that survived the initial infection, developed chronic disease, and experienced lower mortality during the four-year span of our study. However, two lines of evidence suggested possible effects of mycoplasmal URTD on tortoise survival. First, one plausible model suggested that susceptible (seronegative) tortoises in high seroprevalence sites had lower apparent survival rates than did susceptible tortoises in low seroprevalence sites, indicating a possible acute effect of infection. Second, the number of dead tortoise remains detected during annual site surveys increased significantly with increasing site seroprevalence, from approximately 1 to approximately 5 shell remains per 100 individuals. If (as our results suggest) URTD in fact reduces adult survival, it could adversely influence the population dynamics and persistence of this late- maturing, long

  19. Equivalency of Galápagos giant tortoises used as ecological replacement species to restore ecosystem functions.

    PubMed

    Hunter, Elizabeth A; Gibbs, James P; Cayot, Linda J; Tapia, Washington

    2013-08-01

    Loss of key plant-animal interactions (e.g., disturbance, seed dispersal, and herbivory) due to extinctions of large herbivores has diminished ecosystem functioning nearly worldwide. Mitigating for the ecological consequences of large herbivore losses through the use of ecological replacements to fill extinct species' niches and thereby replicate missing ecological functions has been proposed. It is unknown how different morphologically and ecologically a replacement can be from the extinct species and still provide similar functions. We studied niche equivalency between 2 phenotypes of Galápagos giant tortoises (domed and saddlebacked) that were translocated to Pinta Island in the Galápagos Archipelago as ecological replacements for the extinct saddlebacked giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii). Thirty-nine adult, nonreproductive tortoises were introduced to Pinta Island in May 2010, and we observed tortoise resource use in relation to phenotype during the first year following release. Domed tortoises settled in higher, moister elevations than saddlebacked tortoises, which favored lower elevation arid zones. The areas where the tortoises settled are consistent with the ecological conditions each phenotype occupies in its native range. Saddlebacked tortoises selected areas with high densities of the arboreal prickly pear cactus (Opuntia galapageia) and mostly foraged on the cactus, which likely relied on the extinct saddlebacked Pinta tortoise for seed dispersal. In contrast, domed tortoises did not select areas with cactus and therefore would not provide the same seed-dispersal functions for the cactus as the introduced or the original, now extinct, saddlebacked tortoises. Interchangeability of extant megaherbivores as replacements for extinct forms therefore should be scrutinized given the lack of equivalency we observed in closely related forms of giant tortoises. Our results also demonstrate the value of trial introductions of sterilized individuals to test

  20. Sonoran Desert: Fragile Land of Extremes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Produced and Directed by Wessells, Stephen

    2003-01-01

    'Sonoran Desert: Fragile Land of Extremes' shows how biologists with the U.S. Geological Survey work with other scientists in an effort to better understand native plants and animals such as desert tortoises, saguaro cacti, and Gila monsters. Much of the program was shot in and around Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. Genetic detective work, using DNA, focuses on understanding the lives of tortoises. Studies of saguaros over many decades clarify how these amazing plants reproduce and thrive in the desert. Threats from fire, diseases in tortoises, and a growing human population motivate the scientists. Their work to identify how these organisms live and survive is a crucial step for the sound management of biological resources on public lands. This 28-minute program, USGS Open-File Report 03-305, was shot entirely in high definition video and produced by the USGS Western Ecological Research Center and Southwest Biological Science Center; produced and directed by Stephen Wessells, Western Region Office of Communications.

  1. Using Range-Wide Abundance Modeling to Identify Key Conservation Areas for the Micro-Endemic Bolson Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus).

    PubMed

    Ureña-Aranda, Cinthya A; Rojas-Soto, Octavio; Martínez-Meyer, Enrique; Yáñez-Arenas, Carlos; Landgrave Ramírez, Rosario; Espinosa de los Monteros, Alejandro

    2015-01-01

    A widespread biogeographic pattern in nature is that population abundance is not uniform across the geographic range of species: most occurrence sites have relatively low numbers, whereas a few places contain orders of magnitude more individuals. The Bolson tortoise Gopherus flavomarginatus is endemic to a small region of the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, where habitat deterioration threatens this species with extinction. In this study we combined field burrows counts and the approach for modeling species abundance based on calculating the distance to the niche centroid to obtain range-wide abundance estimates. For the Bolson tortoise, we found a robust, negative relationship between observed burrows abundance and distance to the niche centroid, with a predictive capacity of 71%. Based on these results we identified four priority areas for the conservation of this microendemic and threatened tortoise. We conclude that this approach may be a useful approximation for identifying key areas for sampling and conservation efforts in elusive and rare species. PMID:26115482

  2. Using Range-Wide Abundance Modeling to Identify Key Conservation Areas for the Micro-Endemic Bolson Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus)

    PubMed Central

    Ureña-Aranda, Cinthya A.; Rojas-Soto, Octavio; Martínez-Meyer, Enrique; Yáñez-Arenas, Carlos; Landgrave Ramírez, Rosario; Espinosa de los Monteros, Alejandro

    2015-01-01

    A widespread biogeographic pattern in nature is that population abundance is not uniform across the geographic range of species: most occurrence sites have relatively low numbers, whereas a few places contain orders of magnitude more individuals. The Bolson tortoise Gopherus flavomarginatus is endemic to a small region of the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, where habitat deterioration threatens this species with extinction. In this study we combined field burrows counts and the approach for modeling species abundance based on calculating the distance to the niche centroid to obtain range-wide abundance estimates. For the Bolson tortoise, we found a robust, negative relationship between observed burrows abundance and distance to the niche centroid, with a predictive capacity of 71%. Based on these results we identified four priority areas for the conservation of this microendemic and threatened tortoise. We conclude that this approach may be a useful approximation for identifying key areas for sampling and conservation efforts in elusive and rare species. PMID:26115482

  3. Body condition and habitat use by Hermann's tortoises in burnt and intact habitats

    PubMed Central

    Lecq, S.; Ballouard, J.-M.; Caron, S.; Livoreil, B.; Seynaeve, V.; Matthieu, L.-A.; Bonnet, X.

    2014-01-01

    In Mediterranean regions, fires threaten terrestrial tortoises. Nevertheless, varying proportions of adults survive fire; these surviving individuals can play a central role for population recovery. The regions devastated by fire often include important habitat of Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni hermanni), so assessing the ability of survivors to persist is essential for conserving the species. Body-condition indices provide an integrative estimate of how well individuals cope with environmental variations and impacts, including fires. Between 2002 and 2009, we monitored Hermann's tortoises in intact and burnt habitats in southeastern France. In summer 2003, a strong fire ravaged half of the surveyed zone, providing an opportunity to compare body condition of tortoises between intact and burnt areas over time. Six years later, the impact of fire on vegetation was still marked; large trees were abundant in the intact area, whereas open shrub vegetation prevailed in the burnt area. In both areas, the mean body condition of tortoises fluctuated over time; however, there were no differences between the two areas. A radio-tracking experiment demonstrated that individuals from each area were residents, and not vagrants commuting between areas. We also assessed changes in body condition and microhabitat use in radio-tracked individuals. We found no significant differences between the tortoises living in the burnt and intact areas, despite subtle differences in habitat use. In conclusion: (i) surviving tortoises in an area ravaged by fire can maintain their body condition like individuals living in an intact area, and thus, individuals from burnt areas should not be translocated to supposedly better areas; and (ii) depopulated burnt areas are likely to be appropriate for population-augmentation programmes.

  4. Genetic and morphometric assessment of an unusual tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) population in the Black Mountains of Arizona

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    McLuckie, A.M.; Lamb, T.; Schwalbe, C.R.; Mccord, R.D.

    1999-01-01

    Under recent regulatory designation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) occurring east and south of the Colorado River constitute the Sonoran population, whereas those to the west and north form the Mojave population. These management units, distinguished by significant genetic, morphometric, and ecological differences, represent deep phylogenetic subdivisions within G. agassizii and are of high conservation value. We provide genetic and morphological profiles for an unusual tortoise population inhabiting the Black Mountains of Arizona, some 40 km east of the Colorado River. Both mitochondrial (mt) DNA and morphometric analyses revealed predominately Mojavean features: ten of eleven Black Mountain tortoises possessed Mojave mtDNA markers, and 24 of 37 animals exhibited Mojave morphometric phenotypes. Our results indicate west-to-east movement of tortoises across the Colorado River, though how or when a Mojave lineage became established in the Black Mountains is difficult to ascertain. Active dispersal, river meander, and human transport (early or modern peoples) serve as plausible explanations. Future management of the Black Mountain tortoises should emphasize the population's Mojavean affinities.

  5. The dependence of Hyalomma aegyptium on its tortoise host Testudo graeca in Algeria.

    PubMed

    Tiar, G; Tiar-Saadi, M; Benyacoub, S; Rouag, R; Široký, P

    2016-09-01

    Hyalomma aegyptium (Linnaeus, 1758) (Ixodida: Ixodidae) has recently been confirmed as a carrier of numerous pathogenic, including zoonotic, agents. Four environmentally distinct regions of Algeria, located between the humid coastal zone and the arid Saharan Atlas range, were selected in order to compare differences in tick abundance among localities, and the correlations between tick abundance and host population characteristics and other environmental conditions. Sampling was carried out during May and early June in 2010-2012. A total of 1832 H. aegyptium were removed from 201 tortoises. Adult ticks accounted for 52% of the collection. In the pre-adult stages, larvae were dominant. Data on prevalence, intensity (mean ± standard deviation, range) and abundance of tick infestation were calculated for each locality. Locally, prevalences reached 100%. The sex ratio was biased in favour of males (4.2). Intensities of infestation differed significantly among the localities studied for all developmental stages of the tick. The intensity of infestation by adult ticks was positively correlated to the size of the tortoise and with tortoise population density in the habitat. However, findings for immature tick stages were independent of both variables. No significant correlations between infestation intensities and the climatic parameters tested were found. Immature ticks were observed to prefer the front parts of their tortoise hosts, whereas the majority of adults were attached to the rear parts. PMID:27218892

  6. Biogeography of Parasitic Nematode Communities in the Galápagos Giant Tortoise: Implications for Conservation Management.

    PubMed

    Fournié, Guillaume; Goodman, Simon J; Cruz, Marilyn; Cedeño, Virna; Vélez, Alberto; Patiño, Leandro; Millins, Caroline; Gibbons, Lynda M; Fox, Mark T; Cunningham, Andrew A

    2015-01-01

    The Galápagos giant tortoise is an icon of the unique, endemic biodiversity of Galápagos, but little is known of its parasitic fauna. We assessed the diversity of parasitic nematode communities and their spatial distributions within four wild tortoise populations comprising three species across three Galápagos islands, and consider their implication for Galápagos tortoise conservation programmes. Coprological examinations revealed nematode eggs to be common, with more than 80% of tortoises infected within each wild population. Faecal samples from tortoises within captive breeding centres on Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal islands also were examined. Five different nematode egg types were identified: oxyuroid, ascarid, trichurid and two types of strongyle. Sequencing of the 18S small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene from adult nematodes passed with faeces identified novel sequences indicative of rhabditid and ascaridid species. In the wild, the composition of nematode communities varied according to tortoise species, which co-varied with island, but nematode diversity and abundance were reduced or altered in captive-reared animals. Evolutionary and ecological factors are likely responsible for the variation in nematode distributions in the wild. This possible species/island-parasite co-evolution has not been considered previously for Galápagos tortoises. We recommend that conservation efforts, such as the current Galápagos tortoise captive breeding/rearing and release programme, be managed with respect to parasite biogeography and host-parasite co-evolutionary processes in addition to the biogeography of the host. PMID:26332126

  7. Biogeography of Parasitic Nematode Communities in the Galápagos Giant Tortoise: Implications for Conservation Management

    PubMed Central

    Fournié, Guillaume; Goodman, Simon J.; Cruz, Marilyn; Cedeño, Virna; Vélez, Alberto; Patiño, Leandro; Millins, Caroline; Gibbons, Lynda M.; Fox, Mark T.; Cunningham, Andrew A.

    2015-01-01

    The Galápagos giant tortoise is an icon of the unique, endemic biodiversity of Galápagos, but little is known of its parasitic fauna. We assessed the diversity of parasitic nematode communities and their spatial distributions within four wild tortoise populations comprising three species across three Galápagos islands, and consider their implication for Galápagos tortoise conservation programmes. Coprological examinations revealed nematode eggs to be common, with more than 80% of tortoises infected within each wild population. Faecal samples from tortoises within captive breeding centres on Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal islands also were examined. Five different nematode egg types were identified: oxyuroid, ascarid, trichurid and two types of strongyle. Sequencing of the 18S small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene from adult nematodes passed with faeces identified novel sequences indicative of rhabditid and ascaridid species. In the wild, the composition of nematode communities varied according to tortoise species, which co-varied with island, but nematode diversity and abundance were reduced or altered in captive-reared animals. Evolutionary and ecological factors are likely responsible for the variation in nematode distributions in the wild. This possible species/island-parasite co-evolution has not been considered previously for Galápagos tortoises. We recommend that conservation efforts, such as the current Galápagos tortoise captive breeding/rearing and release programme, be managed with respect to parasite biogeography and host-parasite co-evolutionary processes in addition to the biogeography of the host. PMID:26332126

  8. Desert Tortoise series data report: 1983 pressurized ammonia spills

    SciTech Connect

    Goldwire, H.C. Jr.; McRae, T.G.; Johnson, G.W.; Hipple, D.L.; Koopman, R.P.; McClure, J.W.; Morris, L.K.; Cederwall, R.T.

    1985-12-01

    A series of four pressurized ammonia spills up to 60 m/sup 3/ in size were performed at Frenchman Flat in Nevada as a part of a joint government-industry study. This data report presents a description of how the tests were conducted and the data from the tests.

  9. Are tortoises important seed dispersers in Amazonian forests?

    PubMed

    Jerozolimski, Adriano; Ribeiro, Maria Beatriz N; Martins, Marcio

    2009-09-01

    According to most studies on seed dispersal in tropical forests, mammals and birds are considered the main dispersal agents and the role played by other animal groups remains poorly explored. We investigate qualitative and quantitative components of the role played by the tortoise Chelonoidis denticulata in seed dispersal in southeastern Amazon, and the influence of seasonal variation in tortoise movement patterns on resulting seed shadows. Seed shadows produced by this tortoise were estimated by combining information on seed passage times through their digestive tract, which varied from 3 to 17 days, with a robust dataset on movements obtained from 18 adult C. denticulata monitored with radio transmitters and spoon-and-line tracking devices. A total of 4,206 seeds were found in 94 collected feces, belonging to 50 seed morphotypes of, at least, 25 plant genera. Very low rates of damage to the external structure of the ingested seeds were observed. Additionally, results of germination trials suggested that passage of seeds through C. denticulata's digestive tract does not seem to negatively affect seed germination. The estimated seed shadows are likely to contribute significantly to the dispersal of seeds away from parent plants. During the dry season seeds were dispersed, on average, 174.1 m away from the location of fruit ingestion; during the rainy season, this mean dispersal distance increased to 276.7 m. Our results suggest that C. denticulata plays an important role in seed dispersal in Amazonian forests and highlight the influence of seasonal changes in movements on the resulting seed shadows. PMID:19575239

  10. Comparative ultrastructural analysis of two tortoise bladders, Testudo graeca and Geochelone carbonaria.

    PubMed

    Strum, J M; Danon, D

    1976-01-01

    Urinary bladders from the desert tortoises, Testudo graeca and Geochelone carbonaria were removed at specific times during the year and species in all bladders examined: (1) granular cells, (2) mitochondria-rich cells, and (3) basal cells. Cells analogous to these three types have also been observed in amphibian bladders (from toad Bufo marinus and bullfrog, Rana catesbiana) and reptilian bladders (from Pseudemys scripta and Clemmys caspica). Both tortoises have an incomplete layer of basal cells so that the granular and mitochondria-rich cells extend from the lumen to the basement membrane: something was not observed in bladders from bullfrog or turtles. A flask-shaped light cell was observed in the Geochelone carbonaria bladder obtained in April. No counterpart of this cell was seen in the same species sacrificed in January, or in any of the Testudo graeca bladders, although a similar cell has been described in the turtle, Pseudemys scripta (Rosen, Expt. Molec. Path., 12: 286-296, '70). This study was undertaken to characterize the cell types present in tortoise bladder and to compare them with cell types in the bladder of the turtle, bullfrog and toad. PMID:1252017

  11. Localizing Tortoise Nests by Neural Networks

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    The goal of this research is to recognize the nest digging activity of tortoises using a device mounted atop the tortoise carapace. The device classifies tortoise movements in order to discriminate between nest digging, and non-digging activity (specifically walking and eating). Accelerometer data was collected from devices attached to the carapace of a number of tortoises during their two-month nesting period. Our system uses an accelerometer and an activity recognition system (ARS) which is modularly structured using an artificial neural network and an output filter. For the purpose of experiment and comparison, and with the aim of minimizing the computational cost, the artificial neural network has been modelled according to three different architectures based on the input delay neural network (IDNN). We show that the ARS can achieve very high accuracy on segments of data sequences, with an extremely small neural network that can be embedded in programmable low power devices. Given that digging is typically a long activity (up to two hours), the application of ARS on data segments can be repeated over time to set up a reliable and efficient system, called Tortoise@, for digging activity recognition. PMID:26985660

  12. Localizing Tortoise Nests by Neural Networks.

    PubMed

    Barbuti, Roberto; Chessa, Stefano; Micheli, Alessio; Pucci, Rita

    2016-01-01

    The goal of this research is to recognize the nest digging activity of tortoises using a device mounted atop the tortoise carapace. The device classifies tortoise movements in order to discriminate between nest digging, and non-digging activity (specifically walking and eating). Accelerometer data was collected from devices attached to the carapace of a number of tortoises during their two-month nesting period. Our system uses an accelerometer and an activity recognition system (ARS) which is modularly structured using an artificial neural network and an output filter. For the purpose of experiment and comparison, and with the aim of minimizing the computational cost, the artificial neural network has been modelled according to three different architectures based on the input delay neural network (IDNN). We show that the ARS can achieve very high accuracy on segments of data sequences, with an extremely small neural network that can be embedded in programmable low power devices. Given that digging is typically a long activity (up to two hours), the application of ARS on data segments can be repeated over time to set up a reliable and efficient system, called Tortoise@, for digging activity recognition. PMID:26985660

  13. Water balance of the land tortoise Geochelone carbonaria after olfactory bulbectomy.

    PubMed

    Rummler, G; Rummler, M C

    1994-06-01

    We have previously shown that olfactory bulbectomy causes a decrease in some metabolic parameters of chelonians. In the present study we evaluate the capacity for water retention of normal land tortoises and of tortoises with long-standing olfactory bulbectomy. Adult male Geochelone carbonaria tortoises were divided into three groups: group B, 11 tortoises submitted to olfactory bulbectomy two years prior to the study; group PB, 7 tortoises submitted to pseudobulbectomy two years before the study; group N, 9 intact animals. The animals were maintained in captivity in an outdoor area and submitted to the present study under semi-laboratory conditions involving an 18-day period with no solid or liquid food followed by 4 days of free water ingestion and a subsequent 17-day period of no solid or liquid food ingestion. Before water was offered, mean body weight (+/- SEM) was 1764 +/- 93.5 g for group B, 1801.4 +/- 137.4 g for group PB, and 2077.8 +/- 288.8 g for group N. Animal weight was recorded again on the 2nd and 4th days of water ingestion and on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 17th days of fasting. Since no differences were detected between PB and N animals at any time, the data for the two groups were pooled. Thus a control group (C) of 16 animals was used for statistical comparison. The data reflect three behavioral situations: 1) water ingestion and urine excretion, 2) no water ingestion and urine excretion, and 3) neither water ingestion nor urine excretion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS) PMID:7894352

  14. Alfaxalone as an induction agent for anaesthesia in terrapins and tortoises.

    PubMed

    Knotek, Z

    2014-10-01

    The aim of this study was to evaluate short-term intravenous anaesthesia with alfaxalone in chelonians. In the first part of the study, alfaxalone at a dose rate of 5 mg/kg was administered intravenously to 10 adult female red-eared terrapins (Trachemys scripta elegans) following 24 hours of fasting. The induction time, tracheal tube insertion time, surgical plane of anaesthesia interval, and full recovery time were recorded. The head, neck and leg withdrawal reflex was lost within 21.09±8.07 seconds. The mean tracheal tube insertion time, the time of surgical plane of anaesthesia and full recovery time were 27.50±12.96 seconds, 26.40±4.72 minutes and 33.70±4.76 minutes, respectively. In the second part of the study, 50 chelonians (20 red-eared terrapins, 10 Hermann's tortoises, eight spur-thighed tortoises, six marginated tortoises and six Russian tortoises) were treated intravenously with 5 mg/kg alfaxalone after administration of 1 mg/kg meloxicam and 2 mg/kg butorphanol intramuscularly. The head, neck and leg withdrawal reflex was lost within 21.52±6.57 seconds, the endotracheal tube could be inserted within 25.76±8.24 seconds, and the time to deep pain sensation loss was 29.46±9.67 seconds. Intravenous use of alfaxalone proved to be a suitable method of induction for inhalation anaesthesia in terrapins and tortoises. PMID:24989034

  15. Giant Galapagos tortoises walk without inverted pendulum mechanical-energy exchange.

    PubMed

    Zani, Peter A; Gottschall, Jinger S; Kram, Rodger

    2005-04-01

    Animals must perform mechanical work during walking, but most conserve substantial mechanical energy via an inverted-pendulum-like mechanism of energy recovery in which fluctuations of kinetic energy (KE) and gravitational potential energy (GPE) are of similar magnitude and 180 degrees out of phase. The greatest energy recovery typically occurs at intermediate speeds. Tortoises are known for their slow speeds, which we anticipated would lead to small fluctuations in KE. To have an effective exchange of mechanical energy using the inverted-pendulum mechanism, tortoises would need to walk with only small changes in GPE corresponding to vertical center-of-mass (COM) fluctuations of < 0.5 mm. Thus, we hypothesized that giant Galapagos tortoises would not conserve substantial mechanical energy using the inverted-pendulum mechanism. We studied five adult giant Galapagos tortoises Geochelone elephantopus (mean mass=142 kg; range= 103-196 kg). Walking speed was extremely slow (0.16+/-0.052 m s(-1); mean +/- 1 s.d.). The fluctuations in kinetic energy (8.1+/-3.98 J stride(-1)) were only one-third as large as the fluctuations in gravitational potential energy (22.7+/-8.04 J stride(-1)). In addition, these energies fluctuated nearly randomly and were only sporadically out of phase. Because of the dissimilar amplitudes and inconsistent phase relationships of these energies, tortoises conserved little mechanical energy during steady walking, recovering only 29.8+/-3.77% of the mechanical energy (range=13-52%). Thus, giant Galapagos tortoises do not utilize effectively an inverted-pendulum mechanism of energy conservation. Nonetheless, the mass-specific external mechanical work required per distance (0.41+/-0.092 J kg(-1) m(-1)) was not different from most other legged animals. Other turtle species use less than half as much metabolic energy to walk as other terrestrial animals of similar mass. It is not yet known if Galapagos tortoises are economical walkers. Nevertheless

  16. Desert Communities.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    NatureScope, 1985

    1985-01-01

    Provides: (1) background information on desert communities, their similarities, and differences; (2) student activities on this topic; and (3) ready-to-copy student pages with pictures of desert animals and plants. Each activity includes objective(s), recommended age level(s), subject area(s), list of materials needed, and procedures. (DH)

  17. Desert Sojourn.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Greenman, Geri

    1999-01-01

    Focuses on an activity in which the students in a beginning drawing class used middle-value brown paper and earthen shades of conte to draw pictures of bones in a desert environment. Discusses how the assignment teaches appreciation of the colors, sounds, and shapes of the desert. (CMK)

  18. Improved Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay To Reveal Mycoplasma agassizii Exposure: a Valuable Tool in the Management of Environmentally Sensitive Tortoise Populations▿

    PubMed Central

    Wendland, Lori D.; Zacher, Laurie A.; Klein, Paul A.; Brown, Daniel R.; Demcovitz, Dina; Littell, Ramon; Brown, Mary B.

    2007-01-01

    The precarious status of desert (Gopherus agassizii) and gopher (Gopherus polyphemus) tortoises has resulted in research and conservation efforts that include health assessments as a substantial component of management decision-making. Therefore, it is critical that available diagnostic tests for diseases impacting these species undergo rigorous standardization and validation. Since 1992, analysis of exposure of tortoises to Mycoplasma agassizii, an etiological agent of upper respiratory tract disease, has relied on the detection of specific M. agassizii antibody by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We report here substantive refinements in the diagnostic assay and discuss the implications of its use in wildlife conservation and management. The ELISA has been refined to include more stringent quality control measures and has been converted to a clinically more meaningful titer reporting system, consistent with other diagnostic serologic tests. The ELISA results for 5,954 desert and gopher tortoises were plotted, and a subset of these serum samples (n = 90) was used to determine end-point titers, to establish an optimum serum dilution for analyzing samples, and to construct a standard curve. The relationship between titer and A405 was validated using 77 serum samples from known positive (n = 48) and negative (n = 29) control tortoises from prior transmission studies. The Youden index, J, and the optimal cut point, c, were estimated using ELISA results from the 77 control sera. Based on this evaluation, the refinement has substantially improved the performance of the assay (sensitivity of 0.98, specificity of 0.99, and J of 0.98), thus providing a clinically more reliable diagnostic test for this important infection of tortoises. PMID:17626160

  19. Improved enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to reveal Mycoplasma agassizii exposure: a valuable tool in the management of environmentally sensitive tortoise populations.

    PubMed

    Wendland, Lori D; Zacher, Laurie A; Klein, Paul A; Brown, Daniel R; Demcovitz, Dina; Littell, Ramon; Brown, Mary B

    2007-09-01

    The precarious status of desert (Gopherus agassizii) and gopher (Gopherus polyphemus) tortoises has resulted in research and conservation efforts that include health assessments as a substantial component of management decision-making. Therefore, it is critical that available diagnostic tests for diseases impacting these species undergo rigorous standardization and validation. Since 1992, analysis of exposure of tortoises to Mycoplasma agassizii, an etiological agent of upper respiratory tract disease, has relied on the detection of specific M. agassizii antibody by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We report here substantive refinements in the diagnostic assay and discuss the implications of its use in wildlife conservation and management. The ELISA has been refined to include more stringent quality control measures and has been converted to a clinically more meaningful titer reporting system, consistent with other diagnostic serologic tests. The ELISA results for 5,954 desert and gopher tortoises were plotted, and a subset of these serum samples (n = 90) was used to determine end-point titers, to establish an optimum serum dilution for analyzing samples, and to construct a standard curve. The relationship between titer and A405 was validated using 77 serum samples from known positive (n = 48) and negative (n = 29) control tortoises from prior transmission studies. The Youden index, J, and the optimal cut point, c, were estimated using ELISA results from the 77 control sera. Based on this evaluation, the refinement has substantially improved the performance of the assay (sensitivity of 0.98, specificity of 0.99, and J of 0.98), thus providing a clinically more reliable diagnostic test for this important infection of tortoises. PMID:17626160

  20. Reassignment of the land tortoise haemogregarine Haemogregarina fitzsimonsi Dias 1953 (Adeleorina: Haemogregarinidae) to the genus Hepatozoon Miller 1908 (Adeleorina: Hepatozoidae) based on parasite morphology, life cycle and phylogenetic analysis of 18S rDNA sequence fragments.

    PubMed

    Cook, Courtney A; Lawton, Scott P; Davies, Angela J; Smit, Nico J

    2014-06-13

    SUMMARY Research was undertaken to clarify the true taxonomic position of the terrestrial tortoise apicomplexan, Haemogregarina fitzsimonsi (Dias, 1953). Thin blood films were screened from 275 wild and captive South African tortoises of 6 genera and 10 species between 2009-2011. Apicomplexan parasites within films were identified, with a focus on H. fitzsimonsi. Ticks from wild tortoises, especially Amblyomma sylvaticum and Amblyomma marmoreum were also screened, and sporogonic stages were identified on dissection of adult ticks of both species taken from H. fitzsimonsi infected and apparently non-infected tortoises. Parasite DNA was extracted from fixed, Giemsa-stained tortoise blood films and from both fresh and fixed ticks, and PCR was undertaken with two primer sets, HEMO1/HEMO2, and HepF300/HepR900, to amplify parasite 18S rDNA. Results indicated that apicomplexan DNA extracted from tortoise blood films and both species of tick had been amplified by one or both primer sets. Haemogregarina  fitzsimonsi 18S rDNA sequences from tortoise blood aligned with those of species of Hepatozoon, rather than those of species of Haemogregarina or Hemolivia. It is recommended therefore that this haemogregarine be re-assigned to the genus Hepatozoon, making Hepatozoon fitzsimonsi (Dias, 1953) the only Hepatozoon known currently from any terrestrial chelonian. Ticks are its likely vectors. PMID:24923767

  1. Detection of Mycoplasma agassizii in the Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Guthrie, Amanda L.; White, C. LeAnn; Brown, Mary B.; deMaar, Thomas W.

    2013-01-01

    Mycoplasma agassizii causes upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in Texas tortoises (Gopherus berlandieri). To determine exposure to and shedding of M. agassizii, we collected blood samples and nasal swabs from 40 free-ranging Texas tortoises on public and private lands in Texas, USA, from May to October 2009. We used an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect M. agassizii–specific antibodies. Eleven (28%) tortoises were antibody positive, three (8%) were suspect, and the remaining 26 (65%) were negative. Nasal lavage samples were collected from 35 of the 40 tortoises for M. agassizii culture and PCR to detect shedding of M. agassizii. Current infection with M. agassizii was confirmed in one tortoise that had mild clinical signs of URTD and was positive by ELISA (antibody titer >512), PCR, and culture. The clinical isolate was confirmed as M. agassizii by restriction fragment length polymorphism and immunobinding.

  2. Testing Taxon Tenacity of Tortoises: evidence for a geographical selection gradient at a secondary contact zone.

    PubMed

    Edwards, Taylor; Berry, Kristin H; Inman, Richard D; Esque, Todd C; Nussear, Kenneth E; Jones, Cristina A; Culver, Melanie

    2015-05-01

    We examined a secondary contact zone between two species of desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai. The taxa were isolated from a common ancestor during the formation of the Colorado River (4-8 mya) and are a classic example of allopatric speciation. However, an anomalous population of G. agassizii comes into secondary contact with G. morafkai east of the Colorado River in the Black Mountains of Arizona and provides an opportunity to examine reinforcement of species' boundaries under natural conditions. We sampled 234 tortoises representing G. agassizii in California (n - 103), G. morafkai in Arizona (n - 78), and 53 individuals of undetermined assignment in the contact zone including and surrounding the Black Mountains. We genotyped individuals for 25 STR loci and determined maternal lineage using mtDNA sequence data. We performed multilocus genetic clustering analyses and used multiple statistical methods to detect levels of hybridization. We tested hypotheses about habitat use between G. agassizii and G. morafkai in the region where they co-occur using habitat suitability models. Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai maintain independent taxonomic identities likely due to ecological niche partitioning, and the maintenance of the hybrid zone is best described by a geographical selection gradient model. PMID:26045959

  3. Testing taxon tenacity of tortoises: evidence for a geographical selection gradient at a secondary contact zone

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Edwards, Taylor; Berry, Kristin H.; Inman, Richard D.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Jones, Cristina A.; Culver, Melanie

    2015-01-01

    We examined a secondary contact zone between two species of desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai. The taxa were isolated from a common ancestor during the formation of the Colorado River (4-8 mya) and are a classic example of allopatric speciation. However, an anomalous population of G. agassizii comes into secondary contact with G. morafkai east of the Colorado River in the Black Mountains of Arizona and provides an opportunity to examine reinforcement of species' boundaries under natural conditions. We sampled 234 tortoises representing G. agassizii in California (n = 103), G. morafkai in Arizona (n = 78), and 53 individuals of undetermined assignment in the contact zone including and surrounding the Black Mountains. We genotyped individuals for 25 STR loci and determined maternal lineage using mtDNA sequence data. We performed multilocus genetic clustering analyses and used multiple statistical methods to detect levels of hybridization. We tested hypotheses about habitat use between G. agassizii and G. morafkai in the region where they co-occur using habitat suitability models. Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai maintain independent taxonomic identities likely due to ecological niche partitioning, and the maintenance of the hybrid zone is best described by a geographical selection gradient model.

  4. Testing Taxon Tenacity of Tortoises: evidence for a geographical selection gradient at a secondary contact zone

    PubMed Central

    Edwards, Taylor; Berry, Kristin H; Inman, Richard D; Esque, Todd C; Nussear, Kenneth E; Jones, Cristina A; Culver, Melanie

    2015-01-01

    We examined a secondary contact zone between two species of desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai. The taxa were isolated from a common ancestor during the formation of the Colorado River (4–8 mya) and are a classic example of allopatric speciation. However, an anomalous population of G. agassizii comes into secondary contact with G. morafkai east of the Colorado River in the Black Mountains of Arizona and provides an opportunity to examine reinforcement of species' boundaries under natural conditions. We sampled 234 tortoises representing G. agassizii in California (n - 103), G. morafkai in Arizona (n - 78), and 53 individuals of undetermined assignment in the contact zone including and surrounding the Black Mountains. We genotyped individuals for 25 STR loci and determined maternal lineage using mtDNA sequence data. We performed multilocus genetic clustering analyses and used multiple statistical methods to detect levels of hybridization. We tested hypotheses about habitat use between G. agassizii and G. morafkai in the region where they co-occur using habitat suitability models. Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai maintain independent taxonomic identities likely due to ecological niche partitioning, and the maintenance of the hybrid zone is best described by a geographical selection gradient model. PMID:26045959

  5. 76 FR 52363 - Tortoise Power and Energy Infrastructure Fund, Inc. and Tortoise Capital Advisors, L.L.C.; Notice...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-08-22

    ... From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION Tortoise Power and Energy Infrastructure Fund, Inc. and Tortoise Capital Advisors, L.L.C.; Notice of Application August 16, 2011. AGENCY: Securities and Exchange Commission (``Commission''). ACTION: Notice of application under section 6(c)...

  6. Thar Desert

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2001-01-01

    This ASTER sub-scene covers an area of 12 x 15 km in NW India in the Thar Desert. The sand dunes of the Thar Desert constantly shift and take on new shapes. Located in northwestern India and eastern Pakistan, the desert is bounded on the south by a salt marsh known as the Rann of Kutch, and on the west by the Indus River plain. About 800 kilometers long and about 490 kilometers wide, the desert's terrain is mainly rolling sandhills with scattered growths of shrub and rock outcroppings. Only about 12 to 25 centimeters of rain fall on the desert each year, and temperatures rise as high as 52 degrees Celsius. Much of the population is pastoral, raising sheep for their wool. The image is located at 24.4 degrees north latitude and 69.3 degrees east longitude.

    The U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

  7. The dazed and confused identity of Agassiz's land tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Testudines, Testudinidae) with the description of a new species, and its consequences for conservation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Murphy, R.W.; Berry, K.H.; Edwards, T.; Leviton, A.E.; Lathrop, A.; Riedle, J.D.

    2011-01-01

    We investigate a cornucopia of problems associated with the identity of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Cooper). The date of publication is found to be 1861, rather than 1863. Only one of the three original cotypes exists, and it is designated as the lectotype of the species. Another cotype is found to have been destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire. The third is lost. The lectotype is genetically confirmed to be from California, and not Arizona, USA as sometimes reported. Maternally, the holotype of G. lepidocephalus (Ottley & Vel??zques Solis. 1989) from the Cape Region of Baja California Sur, Mexico is also from the Mojavian population of the desert tortoise, and not from Tiburon Island, Sonora, Mexico as previously proposed. A suite of characters serve to diagnose tortoises west and north of the Colorado River, the Mojavian population, from those east and south of the river in Arizona, USA, and Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico, the Sonoran population. Species recognition is warranted and because G. lepidocephalus is from the Mojavian population, no names are available for the Sonoran species. Thus, a new species, Gopherus morafkai sp. n., is named and this action reduces the distribution of G. agassizii to only 30% of its former range. This reduction has important implications for the conservation and protection of G. agassizii, which may deserve a higher level of protection. ?? Robert W. Murphy et al.

  8. The dazed and confused identity of Agassiz's land tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Testudines, Testudinidae) with the description of a new species, and its consequences for conservation

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Murphy, Robert K.; Berry, Kristin; Edwards, Taylor; Leviton, Alan E.; Lathrop, Amy; Riedle, J. Daren

    2011-01-01

    We investigate a cornucopia of problems associated with the identity of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii Cooper. The date of publication is found to be 1861, rather than 1863. Only one of the three original cotypes exists, and it is designated as the lectotype of the species. Another cotype is found to have been destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire. The third is lost. The lectotype is genetically confirmed to be from California, and not Arizona, USA as sometimes reported. Maternally, the holotype of G. lepidocephalus Ottley et Velázques Solis, 1989 from the Cape Region of Baja California Sur, Mexico is also from the Mojavian population of the desert tortoise, and not from Tiburon Island, Sonora, Mexico as previously proposed. A suite of characters serve to diagnose tortoises west and north of the Colorado River, the Mojavian population, from those east and south of the river in Arizona, USA and Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico, the Sonoran population. Species recognition is warranted and because G. lepidocephalus is from the Mojavian population no names are available for the Sonoran species. Thus, a new species, Gopherus morafkai sp. n., is named and this action reduces the distribution of G. agassizii to only 30% of its former range. This reduction has important implications for the conservation and protection of G. agassizii, which may deserve a higher level of protection.

  9. The dazed and confused identity of Agassiz’s land tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Testudines, Testudinidae) with the description of a new species, and its consequences for conservation

    PubMed Central

    Murphy, Robert W.; Berry, Kristin H.; Edwards, Taylor; Leviton, Alan E.; Lathrop, Amy; Riedle, J. Daren

    2011-01-01

    Abstract We investigate a cornucopia of problems associated with the identity of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Cooper). The date of publication is found to be 1861, rather than 1863. Only one of the three original cotypes exists, and it is designated as the lectotype of the species. Another cotype is found to have been destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire. The third is lost. The lectotype is genetically confirmed to be from California, and not Arizona, USA as sometimes reported. Maternally, the holotype of Gopherus lepidocephalus (Ottley & Velázques Solis. 1989) from the Cape Region of Baja California Sur, Mexico is also from the Mojavian population of the desert tortoise, and not from Tiburon Island, Sonora, Mexico as previously proposed. A suite of characters serve to diagnose tortoises west and north of the Colorado River, the Mojavian population, from those east and south of the river in Arizona, USA, and Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico, the Sonoran population. Species recognition is warranted and because Gopherus lepidocephalus is from the Mojavian population, no names are available for the Sonoran species. Thus, a new species, Gopherus morafkai sp. n., is named and this action reduces the distribution of Gopherus agassizii to only 30% of its former range. This reduction has important implications for the conservation and protection of Gopherus agassizii, which may deserve a higher level of protection. PMID:21976992

  10. Tick (Amblyomma chabaudi) infestation of endemic tortoises in southwest Madagascar and investigation of tick-borne pathogens.

    PubMed

    Ehlers, Julian; Ganzhorn, Jörg U; Silaghi, Cornelia; Krüger, Andreas; Pothmann, Daniela; Yedidya Ratovonamana, R; Veit, Alexandra; Keller, Christian; Poppert, Sven

    2016-03-01

    Little is known about the role of endemic ticks as vectors for bacterial and protozoan pathogens for animals and humans in Madagascar and their interaction in anthropogenic habitats where humans, their livestock and native Malagasy species (vectors and hosts) come into more frequent contact than in natural forest ecosystems. The aims of the study were (1) to test whether habitat degradation is associated with increased infestation of tortoises by ticks and (2) to investigate whether ticks carried Babesia, Borrelia or Rickettsia species that might be pathogenic for humans and livestock. We studied hard ticks of two endemic Malagasy tortoises, Astrochelys radiata and Pyxis arachnoides in March and April 2013 in southwest Madagascar. Two tortoise habitats were compared, the National Park of Tsimanampetsotsa and the adjacent degraded pasture and agricultural land at the end of the wet season. Ticks were screened for protozoan and bacterial pathogens via PCR on DNA isolated from ticks using genus-specific primers. Only one out of 42 A. radiata collected from both habitats had ticks. The low prevalence did not allow further analyses of the effect of habitat degradation. Forty-two P. arachnoides were found in the anthropogenic habitat and 36 individuals in the national park. Tick infestation rates of P. arachnoides differed significantly between the two study sites. Tortoises inside the park had lower tick prevalence than outside (8 of 36 (22%) versus 32 of 42 individuals (76%)) and infected animals tended to have fewer ticks inside than outside the park. All ticks collected in both habitats were adults of the ixodid tick Amblyomma chabaudi, which is supposed to be a host-specific tick of P. arachnoides. Screening for Borrelia sp. and Babesia sp. was negative in all ticks. But all A. chabaudi ticks were infected with Rickettsia africae, known to cause spotted fever in humans. Thus, habitat degradation seems to be linked to higher infestation of tortoises with ticks with

  11. Effects of mycoplasmal upper respiratory tract disease on morbidity and mortality of gopher tortoises in northern and central Florida.

    PubMed

    Berish, Joan E Diemer; Wendland, Lori D; Kiltie, Richard A; Garrison, Elina P; Gates, Cyndi A

    2010-07-01

    Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) populations on four tracts of public lands in northern and central Florida were studied from 1998 to 2001 to assess the effects of mycoplasmal upper respiratory tract disease (URTD). Adult gopher tortoises (n=205) were marked for identification, serum and nasal flush samples were obtained for mycoplasmal diagnostic assays, and clinical signs of URTD (nasal discharge, ocular discharge, palpebral edema, and conjunctivitis) were evaluated. A subset of tortoises (n=68) was radio-instrumented to facilitate repeated sampling and document potential mortality. Presence of serum antibody to Mycoplasma agassizii was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and mollicutes species were detected in nasal flushes by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Antibody prevalence varied among sites and years but was highest in 1998, exceeding 70% at two sites. Only 11 tortoises (5%) were positive by PCR, and three species (M. agassizii, M. testudineum, and a nonpathogenic Acholeplasma) were identified in nasal flush specimens. Nasal discharge, though rare (6% of tortoises), was significantly correlated with higher ELISA ratios, study site, and positive PCR status. Mortality events (n=11) occurred on two of the three M. agassizii-positive sites; no mortality was observed on the M. agassizii-negative control site. However, none of the tested variables (ELISA result, study site, year, sex, presence of clinical signs, or carapace length) showed significant ability to predict the odds of death. Mycoplasmal URTD is believed to be a chronic disease with high morbidity but low mortality, and follow-up studies are needed to detect long-term effects. PMID:20688675

  12. Discovering Deserts.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Braus, Judy, Ed.

    1985-01-01

    Ranger Rick's NatureScope is a creative education series dedicated to inspiring in children an understanding and appreciation of the natural world while developing the skills they will need to make responsible decisions about the environment. The topic of this issue is "Discovering Deserts." Contents are organized into the following sections: (1)…

  13. Desert Survivors!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Horton, Jessica; Friedenstab, Steve

    2013-01-01

    This article describes a special third-grade classroom unit based on the reality show "Survivor." The goal of this engaging and interactive unit was to teach students about physical and behavioral adaptations that help animals survive in various desert biomes. The activity combines research, argument, and puppet play over one week of…

  14. Spatial learning and memory in the tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Anna; Chan, Hui-Minn; Hall, Geoffrey

    2007-11-01

    A single tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) was trained in an eight-arm radial maze, with the apparatus and general procedures modeled on those used to demonstrate spatial learning in rats. The tortoise learned to perform reliably above chance, preferentially choosing baited arms, rather than returning to arms previously visited on a trial. Test sessions that examined control by olfactory cues revealed that they did not affect performance. No systematic, stereotyped response patterns were evident. In spite of differences in brain structure, the tortoise showed spatial learning abilities comparable to those observed in mammals. PMID:18085925

  15. [Echocardiopgraphy in European tortoises (Testudo spp.)].

    PubMed

    Prütz, Maike; Fehr, Michael; Mathes, Karina; Hungerbühler, Stephan

    2016-01-01

    An echocardiographic examination was carried out in 71 European tortoises (Testudo spp.) via the cervical-brachial acoustic windows. Simultaneously an electrocardiographic examination was performed. The inflow- and outflow tract of the heart were presented in frontal and sagittal longitudinal sections in B-mode. Within B-mode the size (diameter and area) of the atria and the ventricle (Cavum dorsale), the ventricular wall thickness and the diameter of the origin of the right aorta and of the right Arteria pulmonalis were measured. Also, the fractional shortening (FS%) and a fractional area shortening (FAS%) were calculated for the Cavum dorsale. Standard values for these cardiac parameters were determined for four different tortoise groups (depending on their carapace lengths). The direction of blood flow within the heart could be assessed via colour flow Doppler. By using pulsed-wave Doppler examinations of the inflow- and outflow tract the velocities, pressure gradients, velocity-time-integrals and acceleration- and deceleration times could be determined from the recorded inflow and outflow patterns and standard values were established for these parameters as well. PMID:27169156

  16. Evolutionary divergency of giant tortoises in Gal?pagos

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Fritts, T.H.

    1984-01-01

    The giant tortoises in the Galapagos Archipelago diverge considerably in size, and in shape and other carapace characteristics. The saddleback morphotype is known only from insular faunas lacking large terrestrial predators (i.e. Galapagos and Mauritius) and in Galapagos is associated with xeric habitats where vertical feeding range and vertical reach in agonistic encounters are adaptive. The large domed morphotype is associated with relatively cool, mesic habitats where intraspecific competition for food and other resources may be less intense than in xeric habitats. Other external characteristics that differ between tortoise populations are also correlated with ecological variation. Tortoises have radiated into a mosaic of ecological conditions in the Galapagos but critical data are lacking on the role of genetic and environmental controls on phenotypic variation. Morphological divergence in tortoises is potentially a better indicator of present ecological conditions than of evolutionary relationships.

  17. On Effective Potential in Tortoise Coordinate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ganjali, M. A.

    2012-08-01

    In this paper, we study the field dynamics in Tortoise coordinate where the equation of motion of a scalar can be written as Schrodinger-like form. We obtain a general form for effective potential by finding the Schrodinger equation for scalar and spinor fields and study its global behavior in some black hole backgrounds in three dimension such as BTZ black holes, new type black holes and black holes with no horizon. Especially, we study the asymptotic behavior of potential at infinity, horizons and origin and find that its asymptotic in BTZ and new type solution is completely different from that of vanishing horizon solution. In fact, potential for vanishing horizon goes to a fixed quantity at infinity, while in BTZ and new type black hole we have an infinite barrier.

  18. What Makes a Desert a Desert?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    NatureScope, 1985

    1985-01-01

    Presents background information and activities which focus on definition of a desert, locations of deserts, and factors influencing locations. Activities include objective(s), recommended age level(s), subject area(s), list of materials needed, and procedures. Two ready-to-copy pages with desert landforms and temperature/rainfall data are…

  19. Picture-object recognition in the tortoise Chelonoidis carbonaria.

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Anna; Mueller-Paul, Julia; Huber, Ludwig

    2013-01-01

    To recognize that a picture is a representation of a real-life object is a cognitively demanding task. It requires an organism to mentally represent the concrete object (the picture) and abstract its relation to the item that it represents. This form of representational insight has been shown in a small number of mammal and bird species. However, it has not previously been studied in reptiles. This study examined picture-object recognition in the red-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria). In Experiment 1, five red-footed tortoises were trained to distinguish between food and non-food objects using a two-alternative forced choice procedure. After reaching criterion, they were presented with test trials in which the real objects were replaced with color photographs of those objects. There was no difference in performance between training and test trials, suggesting that the tortoises did see some correspondence between the real object and its photographic representation. Experiment 2 examined the nature of this correspondence by presenting the tortoises with a choice between the real food object and a photograph of it. The findings revealed that the tortoises confused the photograph with the real-life object. This suggests that they process real items and photographic representations of these items in the same way and, in this context, do not exhibit representational insight. PMID:22945433

  20. Hormonal profiles of captive Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra).

    PubMed

    Branson, Maile A; Atkinson, Shannon; Ramos, Meg Ferrell

    2016-05-01

    Monthly blood samples, daily mating observations from Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra), and local rainfall and temperature were collected at the Honolulu Zoo as part of a fertility evaluation. Testosterone concentrations were measured for males (n = 6), two of which were seen copulating and were considered sexually active. Estrone sulfate and progesterone concentrations were measured for female tortoises (n = 9), two of which nested and only one had laid eggs. Testosterone profiles were similar for both sexually active and sexually inactive males, both of which were positively correlated with temperature but not rainfall. Peak testosterone concentrations (12.0 ± 1.4 ng/ml sexually active animals vs. 14.4 ± 2.4 ng/ml sexually inactive animals) occurred at the end of the nesting season, from April to July. Estrone sulfate concentrations were similar for nesting (n = 2) and non-nesting (n = 7) female tortoises, rising from non-detectable concentrations (September), and increasing to peak concentrations during the nesting season. Progesterone concentrations remained low and spiked (9.44 ng/ml) only for the female that nested and laid eggs. Testosterone was negatively correlated with mating behavior, and the male tortoises were likely capable of spermatogenesis even though only two of them engaged in mating behavior. The female tortoises were not senescent, as the estrone sulfate concentrations likely reflected waves of ovarian follicular activity. Endocrine parameters were not in synchrony with rainfall, and a disconnect between the timing of reproductive events and the environmental milieu may help to explain the poor fertility of these tortoises. Zoo Biol. 35:237-245, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID:26971322

  1. Desert Voices: Southwestern Children's Literature.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Polette, Keith

    1997-01-01

    Examines three books with different ways of writing about the desert. Discusses: "Here Is the Southwestern Desert" by Madeline Dunphy, "The Desert Is My Mother" by Pat Mora, and "The Desert Mermaid" by Alberto Blanco. (PA)

  2. Nutritional values of tortoises relative to ungulates from the Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for foraging and social behaviour.

    PubMed

    Thompson, Jessica C; Henshilwood, Christopher S

    2014-02-01

    The site of Blombos Cave (BBC), Western Cape, South Africa has been a strong contributor to establishing the antiquity of important aspects of modern human behaviour, such as early symbolism and technological complexity. However, many linkages between Middle Stone Age (MSA) behaviour and the subsistence record remain to be investigated. Understanding the contribution of small fauna such as tortoises to the human diet is necessary for identifying shifts in overall foraging strategies as well as the collecting and processing behaviour of individuals unable to participate in large-game hunting. This study uses published data to estimate the number of calories present in tortoises as well as ungulates of different body size classes common at South African sites. A single tortoise (Chersina angulata) provides approximately 3332 kJ (796 kcal) of calories in its edible tissues, which is between 20 and 30% of the daily energetic requirements for an active adult (estimated between 9360 kJ [3327 kcal] and 14,580 kJ [3485 kcal] per day). Because they are easy to process, this would have made tortoises a highly-ranked resource, but their slow growth and reproduction makes them susceptible to over-exploitation. Zooarchaeological abundance data show that during the ca. 75 ka (thousands of years) upper Still Bay M1 phase at BBC, tortoises contributed twice as many calories to the diet relative to ungulates than they did during the ca. 100 ka lower M3 phase. However, in spite of the abundance of their fossils, their absolute caloric contribution relative to ungulates remained modest in both phases. At the end of the site's MSA occupation history, human subsistence strategies shifted to emphasise high-return large hunted mammals, which likely precipitated changes in the social roles of hunters and gatherers during the Still Bay. PMID:24423785

  3. 42 CFR 71.52 - Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... (21 CFR 1240.62) regarding general prohibition. (g) Other permits. Permits to import certain species of turtles may be required under other Federal regulations (50 CFR parts 17 and 23) protecting such... 42 Public Health 1 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. 71.52 Section...

  4. 42 CFR 71.52 - Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... (21 CFR 1240.62) regarding general prohibition. (g) Other permits. Permits to import certain species of turtles may be required under other Federal regulations (50 CFR parts 17 and 23) protecting such... 42 Public Health 1 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. 71.52 Section...

  5. 42 CFR 71.52 - Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... (21 CFR 1240.62) regarding general prohibition. (g) Other permits. Permits to import certain species of turtles may be required under other Federal regulations (50 CFR parts 17 and 23) protecting such... 42 Public Health 1 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. 71.52 Section...

  6. 42 CFR 71.52 - Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... (21 CFR 1240.62) regarding general prohibition. (g) Other permits. Permits to import certain species of turtles may be required under other Federal regulations (50 CFR parts 17 and 23) protecting such... 42 Public Health 1 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. 71.52 Section...

  7. 42 CFR 71.52 - Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... (21 CFR 1240.62) regarding general prohibition. (g) Other permits. Permits to import certain species of turtles may be required under other Federal regulations (50 CFR parts 17 and 23) protecting such... 42 Public Health 1 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. 71.52 Section...

  8. Cytochemical characteristics of blood cells from Brazilian tortoises (Testudines: Testudinidae).

    PubMed

    Martins, G S; Alevi, K C C; Azeredo-Oliveira, M T V; Bonini-Domingos, C R

    2016-01-01

    The hematology of wild and captive animals is essential for obtaining details about species and represents a simple method of diagnosing disease and determining prognosis. Few studies have described the morphology of chelonian blood cells, which are more common in sea and freshwater turtle species. Thus, in order to further our understanding and recognition of different chelonian cells types, the present study aimed to describe blood cells from the two species of Brazilian tortoises, Chelonoidis carbonarius and C. denticulatus. Cytochemical analysis of tortoise blood tissue with Panótico®, made it possible to describe all the of the chelonian cell types (with the exception of thrombocytes): erythrocytes, agranular leukocytes (monocytes and lymphocytes), and granular leukocytes (eosinophils, heterophils, basophils, and azurophils). These data are of high importance for establishing hematological profiles of Brazilian tortoises and reptiles. Therefore, based on our results and on comparative analyses with data from the literature for other reptile species, we can conclude that the blood cells described for Brazilian tortoises are found in all species of reptiles that have been analyzed thus far, and may be characterized and used as a comparative parameter between different groups to evaluate the health status of these animals. PMID:27050968

  9. The Tortoise Transformation as a Prospect for Life Extension.

    PubMed

    Murphy, Timothy F

    2015-12-01

    The value of extending the human lifespan remains a key philosophical debate in bioethics. In building a case against the extension of the species-typical human life, Nicolas Agar considers the prospect of transforming human beings near the end of their lives into Galapagos tortoises, which would then live on decades longer. A central question at stake in this transformation is the persistence of human consciousness as a condition of the value of the transformation. Agar entertains the idea that consciousness could persist in some measure, but he thinks little is to be gained from the transformation because the experiences available to tortoises pale in comparison to those available to human beings. Moreover, he thinks persisting human consciousness and values would degrade over time, being remade by tortoise needs and environment. The value available in the transformation would not, then, make the additional years of life desirable. Agar's account does not, however, dispose of the tortoise transformation as a defensible preference. Some people might still want this kind of transformation for symbolic reasons, but it would probably be better that no human consciousness persist, since that consciousness would be inexpressible as such. Even so, it is not irrational to prefer various kinds of lifespan extension even if they involve significant modifications to human consciousness and values. PMID:26133891

  10. Femoral head and neck excision arthroplasty in a leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis).

    PubMed

    Naylor, Adam D

    2013-12-01

    Cases of femoral head and neck excision arthroplasty are infrequently reported in reptiles, and details of surgical technique and clinical outcome in chelonia are lacking. An adult female leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) was presented with chronic non-weight-bearing lameness of the left hind limb. Examination and radiography were consistent with coxofemoral luxation, and as a result of the chronic presentation, surgical intervention was recommended. A cranial approach to the joint via the prefemoral fossa afforded good surgical exposure. A depressed lytic acetabular lesion was noted during the procedure, postulated to be a result of abnormal wear from the luxated femoral head. A fiberglass prop was used during recovery to allow extension of the limb without full weight-bearing. Lameness persisted postoperatively, but limb usage significantly improved. PMID:24450058

  11. Estimating Occupancy of Gopher Tortoise (Gorpherus polyphemus) Burrows in Coastal Scrub and Slash Pine Flatwoods

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Breininger, David R.; Schmalzer, Paul A.; Hinkle, C. Ross

    1991-01-01

    One hundred twelve plots were established in coastal scrub and slash pine flatwoods habitats on the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to evaluate relationships between the number of burrows and gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) density. All burrows were located within these plots and were classified according to tortoise activity. Depending on season, bucket trapping, a stick method, a gopher tortoise pulling device, and a camera system were used to estimate tortoise occupancy. Correction factors (% of burrows occupied) were calculated by season and habitat type. Our data suggest that less than 20% of the active and inactive burrows combined were occupied during seasons when gopher tortoises were active. Correction factors were higher in poorly-drained areas and lower in well-drained areas during the winter, when gopher tortoise activity was low. Correction factors differed from studies elsewhere, indicating that population estimates require correction factors specific to the site and season to accurately estimate population size.

  12. Host contact and shedding patterns clarify variation in pathogen exposure and transmission in threatened tortoise Gopherus agassizii: implications for disease modelling and management.

    PubMed

    Aiello, Christina M; Nussear, Kenneth E; Esque, Todd C; Emblidge, Patrick G; Sah, Pratha; Bansal, Shweta; Hudson, Peter J

    2016-05-01

    Most directly transmitted infections require some form of close contact between infectious and susceptible hosts to spread. Often disease models assume contacts are equal and use mean field estimates of transmission probability for all interactions with infectious hosts. Such methods may inaccurately describe transmission when interactions differ substantially in their ability to cause infection. Understanding this variation in transmission risk may be critical to properly model and manage some infectious diseases. In this study, we investigate how varying exposure and transmission may be key to understanding disease dynamics in the threatened desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii. We created heterogeneity in Mycoplasma agassizii exposure (the putative bacterial agent of a respiratory disease) by varying the duration of interactions between naturally infected and uninfected captive desert tortoises. Using qPCR, we identified new infections and compared models of transmission probability as a function of contact duration and pathogen load. We then examined the contact patterns of a wild tortoise population using proximity loggers to identify heterogeneity in contact duration. The top-ranked model predicting M. agassizii transmission included a dose term defined as the product of the number of days in proximity to an infected host and the infection level of that host. Models predicted low transmission probability for short interactions, unless the infectious host had a high load of M. agassizii: such hosts were predicted to transmit infection at higher rates with any amount of contact. We observed predominantly short-lived interactions in a free-ranging tortoise population and thus, expect transmission patterns in this population to vary considerably with the frequency and duration of high infection levels. Mean field models may misrepresent natural transmission patterns in this and other populations depending on the distribution of high-risk contact and shedding

  13. Mycoplasma and herpesvirus PCR detection in tortoises with rhinitis-stomatitis complex in Spain.

    PubMed

    Salinas, María; Francino, Olga; Sánchez, Armand; Altet, Laura

    2011-01-01

    Chelonid herpesvirus (ChHV) and mycoplasmal infections cause similar clinical signs in terrestrial tortoises and may be the most important causative agents of rhinitis-stomatitis complex, a common disease in captive tortoises worldwide. Currently, diagnosis of ChHV and Mycoplasma spp. infections is most often based on serologic testing. However, serologic results only detect past exposure, and the specificity of these tests can be reduced due to antigenic cross-reactions with other pathogens. Molecular-based techniques could help to define the causative agent and to better manage infected tortoises. Using polymerase chain reaction, we analyzed 63 tortoises (59 spur-thighed tortoise, Testudo graeca; three Greek tortoise, Testudo ibera; and one Russian tortoise, Agryonemys horsfieldii) with clinical signs of rhinitis-stomatitis complex to identify the causative agent. Molecular evidence of ChHV type I (24%), type II (3%), and Mycoplasma agassizii (6%) infections, as well as coinfection of Mycoplasma-ChHV and both types of ChHV, were detected. Both ChHV and M. agassizii are considered pathogenic in captive tortoises and both are a threat to wild populations. However, neither agent was detected from most of the symptomatic tortoises we evaluated, indicating that other agents could be involved in the rhinitis-stomatitis complex. PMID:21270008

  14. Pathology of upper respiratory tract disease of gopher tortoises in Florida.

    PubMed

    McLaughlin, G S; Jacobson, E R; Brown, D R; McKenna, C E; Schumacher, I M; Adams, H P; Brown, M B; Klein, P A

    2000-04-01

    Between August 1993 and September 1995, 24 gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) were received for pathological evaluations from various locations in Florida (USA). All tortoises were examined for clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) including nasal and ocular discharge, palpebral edema, and conjunctivitis. Of the 24 tortoises, 10 had current or previously observed clinical signs of URTD and 14 did not. A blood sample was drawn for detection of anti-mycoplasma antibodies by ELISA, and nasal lavage samples were collected for culture and detection of Mycoplasma agassizii gene sequences by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Of the 14 clinically healthy tortoises, eight were sero-, culture- and PCR-negative, and six were seropositive for antibodies against M. agassizii. Of those six, five were culture- and/or PCR-positive for M. agassizii, and one was culture- and PCR-negative. Of the 10 ill tortoises, nine were seropositive by the ELISA and one was in the suspect range. Nine of the ill tortoises, including the suspect tortoise, were culture- and/or PCR-positive for M. agassizii, and one was culture- and PCR-negative. For histologic evaluation and discussion, the eight sero-, culture-, and PCR-negative tortoises were designated URTD-negative, and the other 16 were classified as URTD-positive. Histologic evaluation of the upper respiratory tract (URT) indicated the presence of mild to severe inflammatory, hyperplastic, or dysplastic changes in 14 URTD-positive tortoises. Seven of eight URTD-negative tortoises had normal appearing nasal cavities; one had mild inflammatory changes. Transmission electron microscopy revealed an organism consistent with Mycoplasma spp. on the nasal mucosal surface of tortoises with clinical signs and lesions of URTD. Additionally, gram-negative bacteria were isolated more frequently from the nasal cavities of URTD-positive tortoises than URTD-negative tortoises. Because clinical signs of URTD were never observed in six of

  15. Gaze following in the red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Anna; Mandl, Isabella; Bugnyar, Thomas; Huber, Ludwig

    2010-09-01

    Gaze following refers to the ability of an animal to orient its gaze direction to that of another organism. Such a behavior may be adaptive as it alerts the observer to important objects in the environment such as food or predators. This behavior has been shown in mammals and birds, but the evolutionary history and the distribution of this behavior throughout the animal kingdom remain unclear. Here, we show that a reptile, the red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria), is able to follow the gaze of a conspecific in a lookup task. Controls revealed that neither the mere presence of a conspecific nor the presentation of a light stimulus (without a demonstrator present) controlled the tortoises' behavior. The findings indicate that the ability to follow gaze may be found in mammals, birds and reptiles and could have evolved before the amniotic line diverged, or may result from a general ability to learn. PMID:20411292

  16. Fungal keratitis in a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

    PubMed

    Myers, Debbie A; Isaza, Ramiro; Ben-Shlomo, Gil; Abbott, Jeffrey; Plummer, Caryn E

    2009-09-01

    A free-ranging gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) presented for trauma and blindness. Fibrinous exudate obscured visualization of the globes. This exudative crust extended from the conjunctival fornices through the palpebral fissure and was manually removed. Ophthalmic examination revealed bilateral corneal ulcerations and scarring and phthisis bulbi of the left globe. Histology of the crust revealed a necrotic conjunctivitis with intralesional fungal hyphae. Culture of the corneal ulcer of the left eye isolated moderate growth of a mixed fungal flora consisting of Curvularia sp. and Aspergillus sp. Miconazole ophthalmic solution was administered and the ulcers in both eyes healed, but corneal edema continued. After 2 mo of treatment with miconazole, tramadol, acetylcysteine, hypertonic saline ointment, artificial tears, and hypertonic saline flushes, the right eye was normal with only a small scar. The left eye remained phthisical. This is the first report of fungal keratitis in a wild reptile and a gopher tortoise. PMID:19746878

  17. Phylogeography and history of giant Galápagos tortoises.

    PubMed

    Caccone, Adalgisa; Gentile, Gabriele; Gibbs, James P; Frirts, Thomas H; Snell, Howard L; Betts, Jessica; Powell, Jeffrey R

    2002-10-01

    We examined the phylogeography and history of giant Galápagos tortoise populations based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data from 161 individuals from 21 sampling sites representing the 11 currently recognized extant taxa. Molecular clock and geological considerations indicate a founding of the monophyletic Galápagos lineage around 2-3 million years ago, which would allow for all the diversification to have occurred on extant islands. Founding events generally occurred from geologically older to younger islands with some islands colonized more than once. Six of the 11 named taxa can be associated with monophyletic maternal lineages. One, Geochelone porteri on Santa Cruz Island, consists of two distinct populations connected by the deepest node in the archipelago-wide phylogeny, whereas tortoises in northwest Santa Cruz are closely related to those on adjacent Pinzón Island. Volcan Wolf, the northernmost volcano of Isabela Island, consists of both a unique set of maternal lineages and recent migrants from other islands, indicating multiple colonizations possibly due to human transport or multiple colonization and partial elimination through competition. These genetic findings are consistent with the mixed morphology of tortoises on this volcano. No clear genetic differentiation between two taxa on the two southernmost volcanoes of Isabela was evident. Extinction of crucial populations by human activities confounds whether domed versus saddleback carapaces of different populations are mono- or polyphyletic. Our findings revealed a complex phylogeography and history for this tortoise radiation within an insular environment and have implications for efforts to conserve these endangered biological treasures. PMID:12449492

  18. Endoscopy-guided ectopic egg removal from the urinary bladder in a leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)

    PubMed Central

    Mans, Christoph; Foster, Jonathan D.

    2014-01-01

    Egg retention in the urinary bladder of a leopard tortoise was diagnosed by radiography and confirmed by cystoscopy. The egg was removed with a modified polypectomy snare, aided by a flexible endoscope and insufflation. No complications occurred during the procedures and the tortoise made a complete recovery. PMID:24891641

  19. Intestinal parasites of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) from eight populations in Georgia.

    PubMed

    McGuire, Jessica L; Miller, Elizabeth A; Norton, Terry M; Raphael, Bonnie L; Spratt, Jeffrey S; Yabsley, Michael J

    2013-12-01

    The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), one of five tortoise species endemic in the USA, was recently classified as a candidate for federal listing as a threatened species. Fecal samples collected from 117 tortoises from eight sites in Georgia were examined for endoparasites using a combination of sedimentation and flotation. Samples from an island population were examined for parasitic oocysts and ova only by flotation, protozoan cysts by trichrome-stained direct smear, and Cryptosporidium by direct immunofluorescence assay and ProSpecT rapid assay. A total of 99 tortoises (85, range 0-100%) was infected with pinworms (Alaeuris spp.), 47 (40, 0-86%) with cestodes (Oochorstica sp.), 34 (41, 0-74%) with Chapiniella spp., 2 (3, 0-33%) with Eimeria paynei, and a single tortoise each with a capillarid and ascarid (1%). On the island, Entamoeba was detected in one tortoise (2%) while Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected in eight (17%). In conclusion, at least eight species of parasites were detected including Cryptosporidium, a possible pathogen of tortoises. Interestingly, we detected spatial variation in the distribution of several parasites among populations suggesting additional work should be conducted across a gradient of tortoise densities, land use, and habitat characteristics. PMID:24072334

  20. Ecology of a population of subsidized predators: Common ravens in the central Mojave Desert, California

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Boarman, W.I.; Patten, M.A.; Camp, R.J.; Collis, S.J.

    2006-01-01

    Human subsidies have resulted in the rapid growth of populations of common ravens (Corvus corax) in the Mojave Desert. This is a management concern because ravens prey on threatened desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). We conducted weekly counts for 29 months at 10 sites on the US Army's National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California to evaluate factors affecting the distribution of ravens. Raven abundance varied seasonally, diurnally, and with human abundance. It was greatest near resource subsidies, specifically the landfill and sewage ponds. Although other studies have documented heavy use of landfills by ravens, the use of sewage ponds had not been previously reported in the published literature. We suggest that raven management should focus on reducing access to anthropogenic resources. ?? 2006.

  1. Population structure and seasonal intra-burrow movement of Ornithodoros turicata (Acari: Argasidae) in gopher tortoise burrows.

    PubMed

    Adeyeye, O A; Butler, J F

    1989-07-01

    Burrows of the gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus Daudin, were sampled for Ornithodoros turicata (Dugès) infestation using carbon dioxide baits and vacuum extraction. Ticks were captured, marked, released, and recaptured, and population estimates were made using the Lincoln index. Estimated population ranged from 47 to 1,338 ticks per burrow. The tick population consisted predominantly of nymphs, with a significant increase in the larval population during the months of June and July. Adult sex ratio was slightly male-biased, but numbers of adults collected were consistently low. Ticks exhibited a low interburrow movement, but depth preferences fluctuated with season; more ticks occurred in the upper strata of the burrows during the hot, humid months. PMID:2769706

  2. Lineage identification and genealogical relationships among captive Galápagos tortoises.

    PubMed

    Benavides, Edgar; Russello, Michael; Boyer, Donal; Wiese, Robert J; Kajdacsi, Brittney; Marquez, Lady; Garrick, Ryan; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2012-01-01

    Genetic tools have become a critical complement to traditional approaches for meeting short- and long-term goals of ex situ conservation programs. The San Diego Zoo (SDZ) harbors a collection of wild-born and captive-born Galápagos giant tortoises (n = 22) of uncertain species designation and unknown genealogical relationships. Here, we used mitochondrial DNA haplotypic data and nuclear microsatellite genotypic data to identify the evolutionary lineage of wild-born and captive-born tortoises of unknown ancestry, to infer levels of relatedness among founders and captive-born tortoises, and assess putative pedigree relationships assigned by the SDZ studbook. Assignment tests revealed that 12 wild-born and five captive-born tortoises represent five different species from Isabela Island and one species from Santa Cruz Island, only five of which were consistent with current studbook designations. Three wild-born and one captive-born tortoise were of mixed ancestry. In addition, kinship analyses revealed two significant first-order relationship pairs between wild-born and captive-born tortoises, four second-order relationships (half-sibling) between wild-born and captive tortoises (full-sibs or parent-offspring), and one second-order relationship between two captive-born tortoises. Of particular note, we also reconstructed a first-order relationship between two wild-born individuals, violating the founder assumption. Overall, our results contribute to a worldwide effort in identifying genetically important Galápagos tortoises currently in captivity while revealing closely related founders, reconstructing genealogical relationships, and providing detailed management recommendations for the SDZ tortoises. PMID:21674601

  3. Desert Storm environmental effects

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kimball, E. W.

    It is noted that after more than six months of operation of the Patriot launch station in the Saudi Arabian desert no problems that were attributed to high temperature occurred. The environmental anomalies that did occur were cosmetic in nature and related to dust and salt fog. It was concluded that the Desert Storm environmental effects were typical of worldwide hot, dry climates.

  4. Animals of the Desert.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    NatureScope, 1985

    1985-01-01

    Provides background information and student activities on how desert animals have adapted to dryness and heat, how and when animals move on the desert, and nocturnal/diurnal animals. Each activity includes objective(s), recommended age level(s), subject area(s), list of materials needed, and procedures. Ready-to-copy pages are included for a…

  5. People and Deserts.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    NatureScope, 1985

    1985-01-01

    Provides: (1) background information on ways people affect deserts and ways deserts affect people; (2) student activities on this topic; and (3) ready-to-copy materials (culture match worksheet and causes worksheet). Each activity includes objective(s), recommended age level(s), subject area(s), list of materials needed, and procedures. (DH)

  6. Surveillance for upper respiratory tract disease and Mycoplasma in free-ranging gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Georgia, USA.

    PubMed

    McGuire, Jessica L; Smith, Lora L; Guyer, Craig; Lockhart, J Mitchell; Lee, Gregory W; Yabsley, Michael J

    2014-10-01

    Abstract Upper respiratory tract disease (URTD) in the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is highly contagious and has been implicated in the reduction of populations throughout the range. With the exception of a few limited studies, the prevalence of URTD in Georgia, USA tortoise populations is poorly known. We found that exposure to Mycoplasma agassizii and Mycoplasma testudineum, associated with URTD, varied geographically among 11 Georgia tortoise populations. The prevalence of antibodies to M. agassizii in individual populations was either very low (0-3%, n=7 populations) or very high (96-100%, n=4 populations), whereas there was variation in the prevalence of antibodies to M. testudineum among populations (20-61%, n=10) with only one site being negative. Five sites had tortoises with antibodies to both pathogens, and these were the only sites where we observed tortoises with clinical signs consistent with URTD. We did not find tortoises with clinical signs of URTD at sites with tortoises with antibodies only to M. testudineum, which provides evidence that this organism may be of limited pathogenicity for gopher tortoises. Collectively, these data indicate that both M. agassizii and M. testudineum are present in Georgia populations of gopher tortoises and that clinical disease is apparent in populations where both pathogens are present. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of these two pathogens, and other potential pathogens, in the overall health of tortoise populations, especially if future conservation efforts involve translocation of tortoises. PMID:25098305

  7. Genetic Assessments and Parentage Analysis of Captive Bolson Tortoises (Gopherus flavomarginatus) Inform Their “Rewilding” in New Mexico

    PubMed Central

    Edwards, Taylor; Cox, Elizabeth Canty; Buzzard, Vanessa; Wiese, Christiane; Hillard, L. Scott; Murphy, Robert W.

    2014-01-01

    The Bolson tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus) is the first species of extirpated megafauna to be repatriated into the United States. In September 2006, 30 individuals were translocated from Arizona to New Mexico with the long-term objective of restoring wild populations via captive propagation. We evaluated mtDNA sequences and allelic diversity among 11 microsatellite loci from the captive population and archived samples collected from wild individuals in Durango, Mexico (n = 28). Both populations exhibited very low genetic diversity and the captive population captured roughly 97.5% of the total wild diversity, making it a promising founder population. Genetic screening of other captive animals (n = 26) potentially suitable for reintroduction uncovered multiple hybrid G. flavomarginatus×G. polyphemus, which were ineligible for repatriation; only three of these individuals were verified as purebred G. flavomarginatus. We used these genetic data to inform mate pairing, reduce the potential for inbreeding and to monitor the maintenance of genetic diversity in the captive population. After six years of successful propagation, we analyzed the parentage of 241 hatchlings to assess the maintenance of genetic diversity. Not all adults contributed equally to successive generations. Most yearly cohorts of hatchlings failed to capture the diversity of the parental population. However, overlapping generations of tortoises helped to alleviate genetic loss because the entire six-year cohort of hatchlings contained the allelic diversity of the parental population. Polyandry and sperm storage occurred in the captives and future management strategies must consider such events. PMID:25029369

  8. Are Food Deserts Also Play Deserts?

    PubMed

    Cohen, Deborah A; Hunter, Gerald; Williamson, Stephanie; Dubowitz, Tamara

    2016-04-01

    Although food deserts are areas that lack easy access to food outlets and considered a barrier to a healthy diet and a healthy weight among residents, food deserts typically comprise older urban areas which may have many parks and street configurations that could facilitate more physical activity. However, other conditions may limit the use of available facilities in these areas. This paper assesses the use of parks in two Pittsburgh food desert neighborhoods by using systematic observation. We found that while the local parks were accessible, they were largely underutilized. We surveyed local residents and found that only a minority considered the parks unsafe for use during the day, but a substantial proportion suffered from health limitations that interfered with physical activity. Residents also felt that parks lacked programming and other amenities that could potentially draw more park users. Parks programming and equipment in food desert areas should be addressed to account for local preferences and adjusted to meet the needs and limitations of local residents, especially seniors. PMID:27033184

  9. Status and distribution of the angonoka tortoise (Geochelone yniphora) of western Madagascar

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Smith, Lora L.; Reid, Don; Robert, Bourou; Joby, Mahatoly; Clement, Sibo

    1999-01-01

    From 1993 to 1995, field surveys were conducted in western Madagascar to assess the current status of the angonoka tortoise (Geochelone yniphora) in the wild. Tortoise presence was documented at 10 of 11 localities surveyed. These localities represent at least five populations, all within a 30-km radius of Baly Bay, near the town of Soalala. The populations occur on fragments of habitat ranging from <50 to 4–6000 ha in size. One hundred and forty-five tortoises were marked in the five populations. Hatchling or juvenile tortoises were observed in all populations, indicating that reproduction was occurring. Most of the 145 tortoises (68%) were marked on Cape Sada, where monthly surveys were conducted. The tortoise density on the c. 150 ha peninsula was 0.66 tortoises/ha. The remains of 22 dead juveniles were found on Cape Sada over the 2-year period. This evidence, combined with the low number of juveniles in intermediate size classes in the Cape Sada population suggests that juvenile mortality may be high.

  10. Resource Selection Probability Functions for Gopher Tortoise: Providing a Management Tool Applicable Across the Species' Range

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kowal, Virginia A.; Schmolke, Amelie; Kanagaraj, Rajapandian; Bruggeman, Douglas

    2014-03-01

    The gopher tortoise ( Gopherus polyphemus) is protected by conservation policy throughout its range. Efforts to protect the species from further decline demand detailed understanding of its habitat requirements, which have not yet been rigorously defined. Current methods of identifying gopher tortoise habitat typically rely on coarse soil and vegetation classifications, and are prone to over-prediction of suitable habitat. We used a logistic resource selection probability function in an information-theoretic framework to understand the relative importance of various environmental factors to gopher tortoise habitat selection, drawing on nationwide environmental datasets, and an existing tortoise survey of the Ft. Benning military base. We applied the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as an index of vegetation density, and found that NDVI was strongly negatively associated with active burrow locations. Our results showed that the most parsimonious model included variables from all candidate model types (landscape features, topography, soil, vegetation), and the model groups describing soil or vegetation alone performed poorly. These results demonstrate with a rigorous quantitative approach that although soil and vegetation are important to the gopher tortoise, they are not sufficient to describe suitable habitat. More widely, our results highlight the feasibility of constructing highly accurate habitat suitability models from data that are widely available throughout the species' range. Our study shows that the widespread availability of national environmental datasets describing important components of gopher tortoise habitat, combined with existing tortoise surveys on public lands, can be leveraged to inform knowledge of habitat suitability and target recovery efforts range-wide.

  11. Contributions of Private Landowners to the Conservation of the Gopher Tortoise ( Gopherus polyphemus)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Underwood, Vicki J.; Ober, Holly K.; Miller, Deborah L.; Munn, Ian A.

    2012-04-01

    Private landowners play a pivotal role in determining whether or not rare species persist in regions where privately owned land is extensive. The range of the gopher tortoise ( Gopherus polyphemus) is confined to the Southeastern U.S., a region predominantly under private ownership, and thus the status of this species is largely dependent upon land management decisions made by private landowners. We sent an anonymous mail survey to 2,584 individuals to examine factors affecting gopher tortoise occurrence on private lands in Mississippi (adjusted response rate of 23%). Few respondents (19%) reported currently having tortoises on their property, although many had them in the past (30%). Tortoises were persisting primarily on larger properties with longleaf pine that were not managed chiefly for timber production. In general, respondents were largely unaware of habitat requirements of tortoises or effects of various land management practices on them, and few reported using management techniques that benefit tortoises, such as prescribed burning. Most respondents (57%) knew of wildlife incentive programs, but were hesitant to enroll because they did not want to commit to managing their property in a particular manner (34%). We suggest actions that could improve the likelihood of tortoise persistence in this region, as well as changes that could be made to incentive programs to increase landowner participation. These suggestions should be relevant to the conservation of other rare species on private lands in other regions.

  12. Resource selection probability functions for gopher tortoise: providing a management tool applicable across the species' range.

    PubMed

    Kowal, Virginia A; Schmolke, Amelie; Kanagaraj, Rajapandian; Bruggeman, Douglas

    2014-03-01

    The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is protected by conservation policy throughout its range. Efforts to protect the species from further decline demand detailed understanding of its habitat requirements, which have not yet been rigorously defined. Current methods of identifying gopher tortoise habitat typically rely on coarse soil and vegetation classifications, and are prone to over-prediction of suitable habitat. We used a logistic resource selection probability function in an information-theoretic framework to understand the relative importance of various environmental factors to gopher tortoise habitat selection, drawing on nationwide environmental datasets, and an existing tortoise survey of the Ft. Benning military base. We applied the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as an index of vegetation density, and found that NDVI was strongly negatively associated with active burrow locations. Our results showed that the most parsimonious model included variables from all candidate model types (landscape features, topography, soil, vegetation), and the model groups describing soil or vegetation alone performed poorly. These results demonstrate with a rigorous quantitative approach that although soil and vegetation are important to the gopher tortoise, they are not sufficient to describe suitable habitat. More widely, our results highlight the feasibility of constructing highly accurate habitat suitability models from data that are widely available throughout the species' range. Our study shows that the widespread availability of national environmental datasets describing important components of gopher tortoise habitat, combined with existing tortoise surveys on public lands, can be leveraged to inform knowledge of habitat suitability and target recovery efforts range-wide. PMID:24281920

  13. Contributions of private landowners to the conservation of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

    PubMed

    Underwood, Vicki J; Ober, Holly K; Miller, Deborah L; Munn, Ian A

    2012-04-01

    Private landowners play a pivotal role in determining whether or not rare species persist in regions where privately owned land is extensive. The range of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is confined to the Southeastern U.S., a region predominantly under private ownership, and thus the status of this species is largely dependent upon land management decisions made by private landowners. We sent an anonymous mail survey to 2,584 individuals to examine factors affecting gopher tortoise occurrence on private lands in Mississippi (adjusted response rate of 23%). Few respondents (19%) reported currently having tortoises on their property, although many had them in the past (30%). Tortoises were persisting primarily on larger properties with longleaf pine that were not managed chiefly for timber production. In general, respondents were largely unaware of habitat requirements of tortoises or effects of various land management practices on them, and few reported using management techniques that benefit tortoises, such as prescribed burning. Most respondents (57%) knew of wildlife incentive programs, but were hesitant to enroll because they did not want to commit to managing their property in a particular manner (34%). We suggest actions that could improve the likelihood of tortoise persistence in this region, as well as changes that could be made to incentive programs to increase landowner participation. These suggestions should be relevant to the conservation of other rare species on private lands in other regions. PMID:22371129

  14. A comparison of the properties of the phosphofructokinases of the fat body and flight muscle of the adult male desert locust

    PubMed Central

    Walker, P. R.; Bailey, E.

    1969-01-01

    1. Phosphofructokinase was isolated, and partially purified by ammonium sulphate fractionation, from the fat body and flight muscle of the desert locust. 2. Ammonium sulphate appears to stabilize the enzymes, but does not activate them. 3. Both flight-muscle and fat-body enzymes give sigmoidal hexose monophosphate concentration–activity curves, which are characteristic of regulatory enzymes. 4. At low ATP concentrations both the enzyme activities increase rapidly with increasing ATP concentrations, but above an optimum concentration ATP becomes inhibitory. This optimum concentration is 0·2mm for the fat-body enzyme and 0·1mm for the flight-muscle enzyme. 5. AMP activates both the enzymes; half-maximal activation occurs at 10μm in each case, the effect being independent of substrate concentration. 6. 3′,5′-(cyclic)-AMP (0·5mm) and Pi (1mm) activate the flight-muscle enzyme, but have no effect on the fat-body enzyme. 7. FDP (1mm) inhibits both enzymes, and with the flight-muscle enzyme this inhibition is increased by increasing the ATP concentration. 8. Citrate, phosphoenolpyruvate and α-glycerophosphate have no effect on either enzyme under the assay conditions used. 9. The properties of phosphofructokinases from the locust are compared with those of phosphofructokinases from other sources. PMID:4304161

  15. Allometric and temporal scaling of movement characteristics in Galapagos tortoises.

    PubMed

    Bastille-Rousseau, Guillaume; Yackulic, Charles B; Frair, Jacqueline L; Cabrera, Freddy; Blake, Stephen

    2016-09-01

    Understanding how individual movement scales with body size is of fundamental importance in predicting ecological relationships for diverse species. One-dimensional movement metrics scale consistently with body size yet vary over different temporal scales. Knowing how temporal scale influences the relationship between animal body size and movement would better inform hypotheses about the efficiency of foraging behaviour, the ontogeny of energy budgets, and numerous life-history trade-offs. We investigated how the temporal scaling of allometric patterns in movement varies over the course of a year, specifically during periods of motivated (directional and fast movement) and unmotivated (stationary and tortuous movement) behaviour. We focused on a recently diverged group of species that displays wide variation in movement behaviour - giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) - to test how movement metrics estimated on a monthly basis scaled with body size. We used state-space modelling to estimate seven different movement metrics of Galapagos tortoises. We used log-log regression of the power law to evaluate allometric scaling for these movement metrics and contrasted relationships by species and sex. Allometric scaling of movement was more apparent during motivated periods of movement. During this period, allometry was revealed at multiple temporal intervals (hourly, daily and monthly), with values observed at daily and monthly intervals corresponding most closely to the expected one-fourth scaling coefficient, albeit with wide credible intervals. We further detected differences in the magnitude of scaling among taxa uncoupled from observed differences in the temporal structuring of their movement rates. Our results indicate that the definition of temporal scales is fundamental to the detection of allometry of movement and should be given more attention in movement studies. Our approach not only provides new conceptual insights into temporal attributes in one

  16. Allometric and temporal scaling of movement characteristics in Galapagos tortoises

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bastille-Rousseau, Guillaume; Yackulic, Charles B.; Frair, Jacqueline L.; Cabrera, Freddy; Blake, Stephen

    2016-01-01

    Understanding how individual movement scales with body size is of fundamental importance in predicting ecological relationships for diverse species. One-dimensional movement metrics scale consistently with body size yet vary over different temporal scales. Knowing how temporal scale influences the relationship between animal body size and movement would better inform hypotheses about the efficiency of foraging behaviour, the ontogeny of energy budgets, and numerous life-history trade-offs.We investigated how the temporal scaling of allometric patterns in movement varies over the course of a year, specifically during periods of motivated (directional and fast movement) and unmotivated (stationary and tortuous movement) behaviour. We focused on a recently diverged group of species that displays wide variation in movement behaviour – giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) – to test how movement metrics estimated on a monthly basis scaled with body size.We used state-space modelling to estimate seven different movement metrics of Galapagos tortoises. We used log-log regression of the power law to evaluate allometric scaling for these movement metrics and contrasted relationships by species and sex.Allometric scaling of movement was more apparent during motivated periods of movement. During this period, allometry was revealed at multiple temporal intervals (hourly, daily and monthly), with values observed at daily and monthly intervals corresponding most closely to the expected one-fourth scaling coefficient, albeit with wide credible intervals. We further detected differences in the magnitude of scaling among taxa uncoupled from observed differences in the temporal structuring of their movement rates.Our results indicate that the definition of temporal scales is fundamental to the detection of allometry of movement and should be given more attention in movement studies. Our approach not only provides new conceptual insights into temporal attributes in one

  17. The Welfare Implications of Using Exotic Tortoises as Ecological Replacements

    PubMed Central

    Griffiths, Christine J.; Zuël, Nicolas; Tatayah, Vikash; Jones, Carl G.; Griffiths, Owen; Harris, Stephen

    2012-01-01

    Background Ecological replacement involves the introduction of non-native species to habitats beyond their historical range, a factor identified as increasing the risk of failure for translocations. Yet the effectiveness and success of ecological replacement rely in part on the ability of translocatees to adapt, survive and potentially reproduce in a novel environment. We discuss the welfare aspects of translocating captive-reared non-native tortoises, Aldabrachelys gigantea and Astrochelys radiata, to two offshore Mauritian islands, and the costs and success of the projects to date. Methodology/Principal Findings Because tortoises are long-lived, late-maturing reptiles, we assessed the progress of the translocation by monitoring the survival, health, growth, and breeding by the founders. Between 2000 and 2011, a total of 26 A. gigantea were introduced to Ile aux Aigrettes, and in 2007 twelve sexually immature A. gigantea and twelve male A. radiata were introduced to Round Island, Mauritius. Annual mortality rates were low, with most animals either maintaining or gaining weight. A minimum of 529 hatchlings were produced on Ile aux Aigrettes in 11 years; there was no potential for breeding on Round Island. Project costs were low. We attribute the success of these introductions to the tortoises’ generalist diet, habitat requirements, and innate behaviour. Conclusions/Significance Feasibility analyses for ecological replacement and assisted colonisation projects should consider the candidate species’ welfare during translocation and in its recipient environment. Our study provides a useful model for how this should be done. In addition to serving as ecological replacements for extinct Mauritian tortoises, we found that releasing small numbers of captive-reared A. gigantea and A. radiata is cost-effective and successful in the short term. The ability to release small numbers of animals is a particularly important attribute for ecological replacement projects since

  18. Demographic Outcomes and Ecosystem Implications of Giant Tortoise Reintroduction to Española Island, Galapagos

    PubMed Central

    Gibbs, James P.; Hunter, Elizabeth A.; Shoemaker, Kevin T.; Tapia, Washington H.; Cayot, Linda J.

    2014-01-01

    Restoration of extirpated species via captive breeding has typically relied on population viability as the primary criterion for evaluating success. This criterion is inadequate when species reintroduction is undertaken to restore ecological functions and interactions. Herein we report on the demographic and ecological outcomes of a five-decade-long population restoration program for a critically endangered species of “ecosystem engineer”: the endemic Española giant Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis). Our analysis of complementary datasets on tortoise demography and movement, tortoise-plant interactions and Española Island’s vegetation history indicated that the repatriated tortoise population is secure from a strictly demographic perspective: about half of tortoises released on the island since 1975 were still alive in 2007, in situ reproduction is now significant, and future extinction risk is low with or without continued repatriation. Declining survival rates, somatic growth rates, and body condition of repatriates suggests, however, that resources for continued population growth are increasingly limited. Soil stable carbon isotope analyses indicated a pronounced shift toward woody plants in the recent history of the island’s plant community, likely a legacy of changes in competitive relations between woody and herbaceous plants induced by now-eradicated feral goats and prolonged absence of tortoises. Woody plants are of concern because they block tortoise movement and hinder recruitment of cactus–a critical resource for tortoises. Tortoises restrict themselves to remnant cactus patches and areas of low woody plant density in the center of the island despite an apparent capacity to colonize a far greater range, likely because of a lack of cactus elsewhere on the island. We conclude that ecosystem-level criteria for success of species reintroduction efforts take much longer to achieve than population-level criteria; moreover, reinstatement of

  19. Demographic outcomes and ecosystem implications of giant tortoise reintroduction to Española Island, Galapagos.

    PubMed

    Gibbs, James P; Hunter, Elizabeth A; Shoemaker, Kevin T; Tapia, Washington H; Cayot, Linda J

    2014-01-01

    Restoration of extirpated species via captive breeding has typically relied on population viability as the primary criterion for evaluating success. This criterion is inadequate when species reintroduction is undertaken to restore ecological functions and interactions. Herein we report on the demographic and ecological outcomes of a five-decade-long population restoration program for a critically endangered species of "ecosystem engineer": the endemic Española giant Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis). Our analysis of complementary datasets on tortoise demography and movement, tortoise-plant interactions and Española Island's vegetation history indicated that the repatriated tortoise population is secure from a strictly demographic perspective: about half of tortoises released on the island since 1975 were still alive in 2007, in situ reproduction is now significant, and future extinction risk is low with or without continued repatriation. Declining survival rates, somatic growth rates, and body condition of repatriates suggests, however, that resources for continued population growth are increasingly limited. Soil stable carbon isotope analyses indicated a pronounced shift toward woody plants in the recent history of the island's plant community, likely a legacy of changes in competitive relations between woody and herbaceous plants induced by now-eradicated feral goats and prolonged absence of tortoises. Woody plants are of concern because they block tortoise movement and hinder recruitment of cactus--a critical resource for tortoises. Tortoises restrict themselves to remnant cactus patches and areas of low woody plant density in the center of the island despite an apparent capacity to colonize a far greater range, likely because of a lack of cactus elsewhere on the island. We conclude that ecosystem-level criteria for success of species reintroduction efforts take much longer to achieve than population-level criteria; moreover, reinstatement of

  20. Hawking radiation of Kerr-Newman black hole in different tortoise coordinate transformations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ibungochouba Singh, T.

    2013-10-01

    Hawking radiation effect of Maxwell’s electromagnetic fields in the Kerr-Newman black hole space-time is investigated using two different tortoise coordinate transformations. It has been shown that the new tortoise coordinate transformation produces constant term ξ in the expression of surface gravity and Hawking temperature. If ξ is set to zero, the surface gravity and Hawking temperature will be equal to those obtained from the old tortoise coordinate transformation. This indicates that new transformation is more reliable and accurate. The black body radiant spectrum of photon displays a new spin-rotation coupling effect.

  1. Hawking radiation temperatures in non-stationary Kerr black holes with different tortoise coordinate transformations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lan, X. G.; Jiang, Q. Q.; Wei, L. F.

    2012-04-01

    We apply the Damour-Ruffini-Sannan method to study the Hawking radiations of scalar and Dirac particles in non-stationary Kerr black holes under different tortoise coordinate transformations. We found that all the relevant Hawking radiation spectra show still the blackbody ones, while the Hawking temperatures are strongly related to the used tortoise coordinate transformations. The properties of these dependences are discussed analytically and numerically. Our results imply that proper selections of tortoise coordinate transformations should be important in the studies of Hawking radiations and the correct selection would be given by the experimental observations in the future.

  2. Tortoise Coordinate Transformation on Apparent Horizon of a Dynamical Black Hole

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liu, Xianming; Zhao, Zheng; Liu, Wenbiao

    Thinking of Hawking radiation calculation from a Schwarzschild black hole using Damour-Ruffini method, some key requirements of the tortoise coordinate transformation are pointed out. Extending these requirements to a dynamical black hole, a dynamical tortoise coordinate transformation is proposed. Under this new dynamical tortoise coordinate transformation, Hawking radiation from a Vaidya black hole can be got successfully using Damour-Ruffini method. Moreover, we also find that the radiation should be regarded as originating from the apparent horizon rather than the event horizon at least from the viewpoint of the first law of thermodynamics.

  3. What is Desert RATS?

    NASA Video Gallery

    The mission manager and test coordinators for the 2011 mission explain why Desert RATS was started 14 years ago, questions being studied in this year's activities, technologies being tested and the...

  4. Comparative abundance and population structure of sympatric Afrotropical tortoises in six rainforest areas: the differential effects of ``traditional veneration'' and of ``subsistence hunting'' by local people

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Luiselli, Luca

    2003-07-01

    Hinge-back tortoises are actively hunted by human populations in sub-Saharan Africa, and are currently threatened in wide areas of their ranges. The wide wetlands and moist rainforests of the Niger Delta (southeastern Nigeria, west Africa) house three sympatric species of hinge-back tortoises: Kinixys erosa, K. homeana, and K. belliana nogueyi. These tortoises are subjected to strong hunting pressure for several reasons (mainly domestic consumption), but in a few places in Bayelsa and Rivers States (eastern axis of the Niger Delta), they are traditionally venerated as "holy animals" bringing happiness. These few places may represent ideal laboratories for monitoring the effects of hundreds of years of "traditional conservation" on the wild populations of a tropical reptile. Here, I compare the apparent abundance, sex ratio, body sizes, microhabitats, and seasonal occurrence of free-ranging Kinixys populations inhabiting three of these "traditional sanctuaries" with the same ecological aspects of conspecifics from three neighbouring areas where the tortoises are actively hunted. K. homeana was the most common species at all sites, followed by K. erosa, whereas K. belliana was extremely rare. Adult sex ratio did not depart significantly from equality both in K. erosa and in K. homeana, and was not influenced by locality or by type of "management" (veneration or harvesting). The frequency of juveniles of K. homeana was significantly higher in areas with traditional veneration than in areas of harvesting, but the same pattern was not observed in K. erosa. There was a significant decrease in terms of the number of observed specimens between areas of traditional protection and areas of usual harvesting in all species, and this trend was more obvious in K. homeana than in K. erosa. The ratio "number of observed erosa/number of observed homeana" was not dependent on the presence of traditional veneration. Mean body sizes were not different in harvest areas and in

  5. Lineage fusion in Galápagos giant tortoises.

    PubMed

    Garrick, Ryan C; Benavides, Edgar; Russello, Michael A; Hyseni, Chaz; Edwards, Danielle L; Gibbs, James P; Tapia, Washington; Ciofi, Claudio; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2014-11-01

    Although many classic radiations on islands are thought to be the result of repeated lineage splitting, the role of past fusion is rarely known because during these events, purebreds are rapidly replaced by a swarm of admixed individuals. Here, we capture lineage fusion in action in a Galápagos giant tortoise species, Chelonoidis becki, from Wolf Volcano (Isabela Island). The long generation time of Galápagos tortoises and dense sampling (841 individuals) of genetic and demographic data were integral in detecting and characterizing this phenomenon. In C. becki, we identified two genetically distinct, morphologically cryptic lineages. Historical reconstructions show that they colonized Wolf Volcano from Santiago Island in two temporally separated events, the first estimated to have occurred ~199 000 years ago. Following arrival of the second wave of colonists, both lineages coexisted for approximately ~53 000 years. Within that time, they began fusing back together, as microsatellite data reveal widespread introgressive hybridization. Interestingly, greater mate selectivity seems to be exhibited by purebred females of one of the lineages. Forward-in-time simulations predict rapid extinction of the early arriving lineage. This study provides a rare example of reticulate evolution in action and underscores the power of population genetics for understanding the past, present and future consequences of evolutionary phenomena associated with lineage fusion. PMID:25223395

  6. The dominance of introduced plant species in the diets of migratory Galapagos tortoises increases with elevation on a human-occupied island

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Blake, Stephen; Guézou, Anne; Deem, Sharon L.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Cabrera, Fredy

    2015-01-01

    The distribution of resources and food selection are fundamental to the ecology, life history, physiology, population dynamics, and conservation of animals. Introduced plants are changing foraging dynamics of herbivores in many ecosystems often with unknown consequences. Galapagos tortoises, like many herbivores, undertake migrations along elevation gradients driven by variability in vegetation productivity which take them into upland areas dominated by introduced plants. We sought to characterize diet composition of two species of Galapagos tortoises, focussing on how the role of introduced forage species changes over space and the implications for tortoise conservation. We quantified the distribution of tortoises with elevation using GPS telemetry. Along the elevation gradient, we quantified the abundance of introduced and native plant species, estimated diet composition by recording foods consumed by tortoises, and assessed tortoise physical condition from body weights and blood parameter values. Tortoises ranged between 0 and 429 m in elevation over which they consumed at least 64 plant species from 26 families, 44 percent of which were introduced species. Cover of introduced species and the proportion of introduced species in tortoise diets increased with elevation. Introduced species were positively selected for by tortoises at all elevations. Tortoise physical condition was either consistent or increased with elevation at the least biologically productive season on Galapagos. Santa Cruz tortoises are generalist herbivores that have adapted their feeding behavior to consume many introduced plant species that has likely made a positive contribution to tortoise nutrition. Some transformed habitats that contain an abundance of introduced forage species are compatible with tortoise conservation.

  7. A tortoise-infecting picornavirus expands the host range of the family Picornaviridae

    PubMed Central

    Wellehan, James F. X.; Coleman, James K.; Kondov, Nikola O.; Deng, Xutao; Waltzek, Thomas B.; Reuter, Gábor; Knowles, Nick J.; Delwart, Eric

    2015-01-01

    While picornaviruses can cause diseases in many mammals, little is known of their host range for replication in non-mammalian vertebrates. Here, a picornavirus in liver and kidney tissues from diseased Sulawesi tortoises (Indotestudo forsteni) was genetically characterized. Tortoise rafivirus A (ToRaV-A, KJ415177) represents a potential new genus in the family Picornaviridae, for which we propose the name “Rafivirus”. Our finding confirms the susceptibility of reptiles to picornaviruses. PMID:25721297

  8. Effects of factors of prolonged space flight on conditions of tortoise skeleton

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Stupakon, G. P.; Volozhin, A. I.; Korzhenyants, V. A.; Yagodovskiy, V. S.; Polyakov, A. N.; Korolev, V. V.; Elivanov, V. A.

    1980-01-01

    After a 60-90 day space flight mild osteoporosis developed in the epiphyses and metaphyses of long tubular bones of tortoises, which was not attributed to reduced mineral saturation of the preserved bone tissue microstructures. The diminished strength of the cancellous bone of the epiphyses in tortoises after space flight was due to the reduced properties of its structure. The strength of the compact substance did not change under the effect of weightlessness.

  9. New Tortoise Coordinate and Hawking Radiation of Dirac Particles in a Non-stationary Kerr-Newman Black Hole

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lan, Xiao-Gang

    2012-04-01

    The Hawking effect of Dirac particles in a non-stationary Kerr-Newman black hole is investigated using an improved Damour-Ruffini method with a new tortoise coordinate transformation. In contrast with the old tortoise coordinate, the new one satisfies the dimensional requirement. It is interesting to note that the Hawking emission spectrum remains a blackbody one with a correction term ξ existing in the Hawking temperature. Compared with the old tortoise coordinate transformation, our results appears more accurate and reliable.

  10. Respiratory and pharyngo-esophageal iridovirus infection in a gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus).

    PubMed

    Westhouse, R A; Jacobson, E R; Harris, R K; Winter, K R; Homer, B L

    1996-10-01

    A free-living adult male gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) was found on Sanibel Island, Florida (USA), on 18 February 1992 with signs of upper respiratory disease. On necropsy after euthanasia on 27 February 1992, severe, extensive necrotizing ulcerative tracheitis, multifocal necrotizing pneumonia, and multifocal necrotizing ulcerative pharyngitis and esophagitis were observed. Large ovoid to round intracytoplasmic basophilic inclusions, which appeared to displace the nucleus to the cell periphery, occurred within degenerate and necrotic epithelial cells of the above tissues. On transmission electron microscopy of formalin-fixed trachea and lung, intracytoplasmic viral particles were observed within necrotic cells in the tracheal lumen and epithelial cells of the lung. Most infected cells also had a roughly spherical granular cytoplasmic inclusion that contained clusters of viral particles. Viral particles had an electron dense spherical to icosahedral core surrounded by a less electron dense icosahedral capsid. Mature extracellular virions were surrounded by an envelope and were 150 to 220 nm in diameter. Virions and cytoplasmic inclusions were morphologically similar to those of the Family Iridoviridae. PMID:9359071

  11. Resistance of leopard tortoises and helmeted guineafowl to Cowdria ruminantium infection (heartwater).

    PubMed

    Peter, T F; Mahan, S M; Burridge, M J

    2001-07-27

    Experimental infection trials were conducted to investigate susceptibility of leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) and helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) to infection with Cowdria ruminantium, the causative agent of heartwater, a tickborne disease of domestic and wild ruminants. Ten guineafowl were inoculated intravenously with a virulent dose of C. ruminantium derived from bovine endothelial cell cultures, and four leopard tortoises were exposed to C. ruminantium infection by the feeding of infected Amblyomma hebraeum ticks. Uninfected A. hebraeum ticks (on both tortoises and guineafowl) and Amblyomma marmoreum ticks (on tortoises only) were fed on the animals during weeks 2 and 3 post-exposure in an attempt to detect infection. These ticks were analyzed for C. ruminantium infection by xenodiagnosis and with the C. ruminantium-specific pCS20 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Attempts to detect infection in ticks fed on either species were negative by both tests. These results suggest that leopard tortoises and helmeted guineafowl are refractory to C. ruminantium infection and, therefore, are unlikely to be capable of introducing heartwater directly into new areas. However, leopard tortoises are efficient hosts of A. marmoreum and A. hebraeum and are likely to be important epidemiologically in the transport and maintenance of these tick vector species. PMID:11423187

  12. Intraocular pressure determination in clinically normal red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Selmi, André L; Mendes, Guilherme M; McManus, Concepta; Arrais, Patrícia

    2002-03-01

    Intraocular pressure (IOP) reflects a balance between aqueous humor production and outflow and is often an essential ophthalmic diagnostic procedure in animals. The objective of this study was to estimate IOP in clinically normal red-footed tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria) of various sizes by using applanation tonometry. Intraocular pressures were estimated for 25 captive red-footed tortoises (10 males, 10 females, and 5 animals of unknown sex) by using an applanation tonometer after topical anesthesia. Body length ranged from 5.1 to 54.9 cm, measured from nuchal to anal scutes. Five measurements from each eye were obtained by a single observer in an ambient temperature of approximately 30 degrees C. Observer's reliability was good (intraclass r = 0.75), and IOP did not change over the ordered sequence of five replicate measurements. For individual tortoises the correlation for IOP between the left and right eyes was low (r = 0.20). The paired t-test did not show any statistical effect (P = 0.426) for the difference in IOP between the left and right eyes. Mean IOP determined for 10 confirmed males and 10 confirmed females did not differ between sexes (P = 0.244). The mean IOP of five small tortoises (< 10 cm long) was not significantly different (P = 0.244) from that of 20 large tortoises (> 10 cm long). In red-footed tortoises there does not appear to be any relation between carapace length and IOP. PMID:12216794

  13. Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Densities in Coastal Scrub and Slash Pine Flatwoods in Florida

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Breininger, David R.; Schmalzer, Paul A.; Hinkle, C. Ross

    1994-01-01

    Densities of gopher tortoises were compared with habitat characteristics in scrub and in flatwood habitats on the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Tortoises were distributed widely among habitat types and did not have higher densities in well-drained (oak-palmetto) than in poorly-drained (saw palmetto) habitats. Fall densities of tortoises ranged from a mean of 2.7 individuals/ha in disturbed habitat to 0.0 individuals/ha in saw palmetto habitat. Spring densities of tortoises ranged from a mean of 2.5 individuals/ha in saw palmetto habitat to 0.7 individuals/ha in oak-palmetto habitat. Densities of tortoises were correlated positively with the percent herbaceous cover, an indicator of food resources. Plots were divided into three burn classes; these were areas burned within three years, burned four to seven years, and unburned for more than seven years prior to the study. Relationships between densities of tortoises and time-since-fire classes were inconsistent.

  14. Sounds of the Desert.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    McCullough-Brabson, Ellen; Achilles, Elayne; Ashcraft, Joan

    1997-01-01

    Discusses the program called "Sounds of the Desert" that celebrates the Southwest indigenous culture and focuses on understanding music in relation to history and culture. Emphasizes the study of Mariachi music that is being taught alongside band, orchestra, and chorus from the third grade to senior high in many Tucson (Arizona) schools. (CMK)

  15. How desert varnish forms?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Randall S.; Kolb, Vera M.; Lynne, Bridget Y.; Sephton, Mark A.; Mcloughlin, Nicola; Engel, Michael H.; Olendzenski, Lorraine; Brasier, Martin; Staley, James T., Jr.

    2005-09-01

    Desert varnish is a black, manganese-rich rock coating that is widespread on Earth. The mechanism underlying its formation, however, has remained unresolved. We present here new data and an associated model for how desert varnish forms, which substantively challenges previously accepted models. We tested both inorganic processes (e.g. clays and oxides cementing coatings) and microbial methods of formation. Techniques used in this preliminary study include SEM-EDAX with backscatter, HRTEM of focused ion beam prepared (FIB) wafers and several other methods including XRPD, Raman spectroscopy, XPS and Tof-SIMS. The only hypothesis capable of explaining a high water content, the presence of organic compounds, an amorphous silica phase (opal-A) and lesser quantities of clays than previously reported, is a mechanism involving the mobilization and redistribution of silica. The discovery of silica in desert varnish suggests labile organics are preserved by interaction with condensing silicic acid. Organisms are not needed for desert varnish formation but Bacteria, Archaea, Eukarya, and other organic compounds are passively incorporated and preserved as organominerals. The rock coatings thus provide useful records of past environments on Earth and possibly other planets. Additionally this model also helps to explain the origin of key varnish and rock glaze features, including their hardness, the nature of the "glue" that binds heterogeneous components together, its layered botryoidal morphology, and its slow rate of formation.

  16. Plants of the Desert.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    NatureScope, 1985

    1985-01-01

    Provides background information and student activities on plants of the desert, including various adaptations for life with limited water supplies. Each activity includes objective(s), recommended age level(s), subject area(s), list of materials needed, and procedures. A ready-to-copy student worksheet is included. (DH)

  17. Mojave Desert Diary

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Breed, Allen F.

    1974-01-01

    This is an account of a trip to the Mojave Desert sponsored by the California Youth Authority's Community Parole Center for wards who are selected on the basis of their potential for growth and their ability to make a connection between what they do in the wilderness and what they do on the streets. (PD)

  18. Origin and evolutionary relationships of giant Galápagos tortoises

    PubMed Central

    Caccone, Adalgisa; Gibbs, James P.; Ketmaier, Valerio; Suatoni, Elizabeth; Powell, Jeffrey R.

    1999-01-01

    Perhaps the most enduring debate in reptile systematics has involved the giant Galápagos tortoises (Geochelone nigra), whose origins and systematic relationships captivated Charles Darwin and remain unresolved to this day. Here we report a phylogenetic reconstruction based on mitochondrial DNA sequences from Galápagos tortoises and Geochelone from mainland South America and Africa. The closest living relative to the Galápagos tortoise is not among the larger-bodied tortoises of South America but is the relatively small-bodied Geochelone chilensis, or Chaco tortoise. The split between G. chilensis and the Galápagos lineage probably occurred 6 to 12 million years ago, before the origin of the oldest extant Galápagos island. Our data suggest that the four named southern subspecies on the largest island, Isabela, are not distinct genetic units, whereas a genetically distinct northernmost Isabela subspecies is probably the result of a separate colonization. Most unexpectedly, the lone survivor of the abingdoni subspecies from Pinta Island (“Lonesome George”) is very closely related to tortoises from San Cristóbal and Española, the islands farthest from the island of Pinta. To rule out a possible recent transplant of Lonesome George, we sequenced DNA from three tortoises collected on Pinta in 1906. They have sequences identical to Lonesome George, consistent with his being the last survivor of his subspecies. This finding may provide guidance in finding a mate for Lonesome George, who so far has failed to reproduce. PMID:10557302

  19. Systemic adenovirus infection in Sulawesi tortoises (Indotestudo forsteni) caused by a novel siadenovirus.

    PubMed

    Rivera, Sam; Wellehan, James F X; McManamon, Rita; Innis, Charles J; Garner, Michael M; Raphael, Bonnie L; Gregory, Christopher R; Latimer, Kenneth S; Rodriguez, Carlos E; Diaz-Figueroa, Orlando; Marlar, Annajane B; Nyaoke, Akinyi; Gates, Amy E; Gilbert, Kelly; Childress, April L; Risatti, Guillermo R; Frasca, Salvatore

    2009-07-01

    A novel siadenovirus was identified in the Sulawesi tortoise (Indotestudo forsteni). A group of 105 Sulawesi tortoises was obtained by the Turtle Survival Alliance. Many of the tortoises were in poor health. Clinical signs included anorexia, lethargy, mucosal ulcerations and palatine erosions of the oral cavity, nasal and ocular discharge, and diarrhea. Initial diagnostic tests included fecal testing for parasites, complete blood count and plasma biochemical analysis, mycoplasma serology, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for intranuclear coccidia and chelonian herpesvirus. Treatment included administration of antibiotics, antiparasitic medications, parenteral fluids, and nutritional support. Tissue samples from animals that died were submitted for histopathologic evaluation. Histopathologic examination revealed systemic inflammation and necrosis associated with intranuclear inclusions consistent with a systemic viral infection in 35 tortoises out of 50 examined. Fecal testing results and histopathologic findings revealed intestinal and hepatic amoebiasis and nematodiasis in 31 animals. Two of 5 tortoises tested by PCR were positive for Chlamydophila sp. Aeromonas hydrophila and Escherichia coli were cultured from multiple organs of 2 animals. The mycoplasma serology and PCR results for intranuclear coccidia and chelonian herpesvirus were negative. Polymerase chain reaction testing of tissues, plasma, and choanal/cloacal samples from 41 out of 42 tortoises tested were positive for an adenovirus, which was characterized by sequence analysis and molecular phylogenetic inference as a novel adenovirus of the genus Siadenovirus. The present report details the clinical and anatomic pathologic findings associated with systemic infection of Sulawesi tortoises by this novel Siadenovirus, which extends the known reptilian adenoviruses to the chelonians and extends the known genera of reptilian Adenoviridae beyond Atadenovirus to include the genus Siadenovirus. PMID

  20. The effects of ambient temperature on amikacin pharmacokinetics in gopher tortoises.

    PubMed

    Caligiuri, R; Kollias, G V; Jacobson, E; McNab, B; Clark, C H; Wilson, R C

    1990-09-01

    The pharmacokinetics of amikacin were compared in two groups of tortoises, one held at 20 degrees C and the other at 30 degrees C. The mean (+/- SD) residence time for amikacin in the 30 degrees C tortoises was 22.67 +/- 0.50 h; significantly (P less than 0.05) less than those held at 20 degrees C (41.83 +/- 3.23 h). There was no significant difference (P greater than 0.05) in the steady-state volume of distribution (Vd(ss] between the tortoises held at 30 degrees C (0.241 +/- 0.520 l/kg) and those held at 20 degrees C (0.221 +/- 0.019 l/kg). The clearance rate was faster (P less than 0.05) in the warmer tortoises (10.65 +/- 2.42 ml/min/kg at 30 degrees C compared to 5.27 +/- 0.152 ml/min/kg at 20 degrees C). These data indicate that while the volume of distribution was approximately the same, amikacin remained in the colder tortoises longer because of its slower elimination. The oxygen consumption and metabolism were measured and found to be lower in the colder tortoises, almost by the same 2:1 ratio as clearance time (Cl), mean residence time (MRT), and area under the curve (AUC). The data derived from this limited study indicated that an appropriate therapeutic dosage regimen for amikacin in gopher tortoises at 30 degrees C is 5 mg/kg given i.m. every 48 h. PMID:2231869

  1. A study of Desert Dermatoses in the Thar Desert Region

    PubMed Central

    Chatterjee, Manas; Vasudevan, Biju

    2015-01-01

    Introduction: Desert dermatology describes the cutaneous changes and the diseases affecting those living in the desert. Diurnal variation in temperature is high and is characteristic of the deserts. The lack of water affects daily activities and impacts dermatological conditions. Adaptation to the desert is therefore important to survival. This original article focuses on dermatoses occurring in a population in the Thar desert of India, predominantly located in Rajasthan. Materials and Methods: This is a descriptive study involving various dermatoses seen in patients residing in the Thar desert region over a duration of 3 years. Results: Infections were the most common condition seen among this population and among them fungal infections were the most common. The high incidence of these infections would be accounted for by the poor hygienic conditions due to lack of bathing facilities due to scarcity of water and the consequent sweat retention and overgrowth of cutaneous infective organisms. Pigmentary disorders, photodermatoses, leishmaniasis and skin tumors were found to be more prevalent in this region. Desert sweat dermatitis was another specific condition found to have an increased incidence. Conclusion: The environment of the desert provides for a wide variety of dermatoses that can result in these regions with few of these dermatoses found in much higher incidence than in other regions. The concept of desert dermatology needs to be understood in more details to provide better care to those suffering from desert dermatoses and this article is a step forward in this regard. PMID:25657392

  2. 77 FR 14514 - TGP Granada, LLC v. Public Service Company of New Mexico; Tortoise Capital Resources Corp...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-03-12

    ... From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission TGP Granada, LLC v. Public Service Company of New Mexico; Tortoise Capital... against the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and Tortoise Capital Resources Corp....

  3. Checklist of tortoise beetles (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cassidinae) from Colombia with new data and description of a new species

    PubMed Central

    Borowiec, Lech; Świętojańska, Jolanta

    2015-01-01

    Abstract A new tortoise beetle species, Cyrtonota abrili, is described from the Antioquia and Caldas departments in Colombia. New faunistic data are provided for 87 species, including 16 new additions to the country’s fauna. A checklist of the known 238 species of tortoise beetles recorded from Colombia is given. PMID:26448702

  4. Microsatellite analysis of genetic divergence among populations of giant Galápagos tortoises.

    PubMed

    Ciofi, Claudio; Milinkovitch, Michel C; Gibbs, James P; Caccone, Adalgisa; Powell, Jeffrey R

    2002-11-01

    Giant Galápagos tortoises represent an interesting model for the study of patterns of genetic divergence and adaptive differentiation related to island colonization events. Recent mitochondrial DNA work elucidated the evolutionary history of the species and helped to clarify aspects of nomenclature. We used 10 microsatellite loci to assess levels of genetic divergence among and within island populations. In particular, we described the genetic structure of tortoises on the island of Isabela, where discrimination of different taxa is still subject of debate. Individual island populations were all genetically distinct. The island of Santa Cruz harboured two distinct populations. On Isabela, populations of Volcan Wolf, Darwin and Alcedo were significantly different from each other. On the other hand, Volcan Wolf showed allelic similarity with the island of Santiago. On Southern Isabela, lower genetic divergence was found between Northeast Sierra Negra and Volcan Alcedo, while patterns of gene flow were recorded among tortoises of Cerro Azul and Southeast Sierra Negra. These tortoises have endured heavy exploitation during the last three centuries and recently attracted much concern due to the current number of stochastic and deterministic threats to extant populations. Our study complements previous investigation based on mtDNA diversity and provides further information that may help devising tortoise management plans. PMID:12406238

  5. Salmonella infection in illegally imported spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca).

    PubMed

    Percipalle, M; Giardina, G; Lipari, L; Piraino, C; Macrì, D; Ferrantelli, V

    2011-06-01

    The prevalence of Salmonella infection was determined in a group of spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) seized during two smuggling attempts and in a population of captive Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni) sheltered in a wildlife rescue centre. Salmonella spp. was isolated in 81 of 220 (36.8%) and in 17 of 67 (25.4%) cloacal swabs collected from the T. graeca and T. hermanni tortoises respectively. Overall, a total of 21 different Salmonella serotypes were found. Some of these serotypes are common to terrestrial chelonians while others have never been reported. All cultured serotypes were non-typhoidal but nonetheless many of these have been previously reported as source of human outbreaks of reptile-related salmonellosis. Eighty-two per cent and 5.3% of the isolates were resistant to two and three anti-microbial agents respectively. However, the isolates were highly susceptible to the anti-microbials of choice for the treatment of salmonellosis such as cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. Our findings confirm that tortoises can be considered a reservoir for Salmonella and that care should be employed when handling and breeding these animals. Tight surveillance should be enforced to avoid illegal importation and prevent the trading of live tortoises, carriers of zoonotic pathogens. PMID:20626717

  6. Survey of co-infection by Salmonella and oxyurids in tortoises

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background Salmonella spp. and oxyurids are among the most prevalent bacterial and parasitic agents in reptiles. These organisms are routinely isolated in healthy tortoises, although heavy infections may cause significant pathology. Tortoises are considered a common source of reptile-associated salmonellosis, an important zoonosis reported worldwide. A survey of the prevalence of Salmonella spp. and oxyurids in 53 tortoises was conducted in southern Italy and a possible correlation between the two pathogens was therefore investigated. Results Salmonella spp. and oxyurids were detected with a prevalence of 49.1 and 81.1%, respectively. A significant positive correlation between Salmonella spp. and oxyurids was demonstrated. However, confounding factors related to husbandry could have been involved in determining this correlation. Conclusions Our results suggest that caution should be exercised in translocation, husbandry, and human contact with tortoises and other exotic pets. Further studies on the epidemiology, molecular characterization and pathogenesis of Salmonella and oxyurids are needed to assess the actual impact of these organisms, as single or associated infections, on tortoises and on other exotic pets. PMID:22640421

  7. Visual and response-based navigation in the tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Anna; Coward, Sacha; Hall, Geoffrey

    2009-11-01

    Much research has investigated spatial cognition in mammals and birds. Evidence suggests that the hippocampus plays a critical role in this; however, reptiles do not possess a hippocampus. It has been proposed that the reptilian medial cortex plays a similar role, yet little behavioral research has directly investigated this. Consequently, this study examined the role of extramaze cues in spatial navigation by the red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) using an eight-arm radial maze. In Experiment 1 the maze was surrounded by a black curtain on which geometrical shapes were attached. After the tortoise reached above-chance performance we introduced test sessions in which the cues were removed. Performance was unaffected by cue removal. The tortoise appeared to have developed a "turn-by-one-arm" strategy. In a second experiment the curtain was removed and the tortoise was allowed access to a rich-cue environment. The use of the turn-by-one-arm strategy was significantly reduced and the tortoise appeared to be using the extramaze cues to navigate around the apparatus. This type of response-based strategy, and the specific contexts in which it was used, has not been observed in mammals and birds, suggesting that the mechanisms served by the reptilian medial cortex do not parallel exactly those of the hippocampus. PMID:19466467

  8. The ecological consequences of megafaunal loss: giant tortoises and wetland biodiversity

    PubMed Central

    Froyd, Cynthia A; Coffey, Emily E D; Knaap, Willem O; Leeuwen, Jacqueline F N; Tye, Alan; Willis, Katherine J; Sax, Dov

    2014-01-01

    The giant tortoises of the Galápagos have become greatly depleted since European discovery of the islands in the 16th Century, with populations declining from an estimated 250 000 to between 8000 and 14 000 in the 1970s. Successful tortoise conservation efforts have focused on species recovery, but ecosystem conservation and restoration requires a better understanding of the wider ecological consequences of this drastic reduction in the archipelago's only large native herbivore. We report the first evidence from palaeoecological records of coprophilous fungal spores of the formerly more extensive geographical range of giant tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Upland tortoise populations on Santa Cruz declined 500–700 years ago, likely the result of human impact or possible climatic change. Former freshwater wetlands, a now limited habitat-type, were found to have converted to Sphagnum bogs concomitant with tortoise loss, subsequently leading to the decline of several now-rare or extinct plant species. PMID:24382356

  9. Morphometrics parallel genetics in a newly discovered and endangered taxon of Galápagos tortoise.

    PubMed

    Chiari, Ylenia; Hyseni, Chaz; Fritts, Tom H; Glaberman, Scott; Marquez, Cruz; Gibbs, James P; Claude, Julien; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2009-01-01

    Galápagos tortoises represent the only surviving lineage of giant tortoises that exhibit two different types of shell morphology. The taxonomy of Galápagos tortoises was initially based mainly on diagnostic morphological characters of the shell, but has been clarified by molecular studies indicating that most islands harbor monophyletic lineages, with the exception of Isabela and Santa Cruz. On Santa Cruz there is strong genetic differentiation between the two tortoise populations (Cerro Fatal and La Reserva) exhibiting domed shell morphology. Here we integrate nuclear microsatellite and mitochondrial data with statistical analyses of shell shape morphology to evaluate whether the genetic distinction and variability of the two domed tortoise populations is paralleled by differences in shell shape. Based on our results, morphometric analyses support the genetic distinction of the two populations and also reveal that the level of genetic variation is associated with morphological shell shape variation in both populations. The Cerro Fatal population possesses lower levels of morphological and genetic variation compared to the La Reserva population. Because the turtle shell is a complex heritable trait, our results suggest that, for the Cerro Fatal population, non-neutral loci have probably experienced a parallel decrease in variability as that observed for the genetic data. PMID:19609441

  10. Thesis Abstract Morphological and phylogeographic analysis of Brazilian tortoises (Testudinidae).

    PubMed

    Silva, T L; Venancio, L P R; Bonini-Domingos, C R

    2015-01-01

    The discriminative potentials of biogeography, vocalization, morphology, cytogenetics, hemoglobin, and molecular profiling of cytochrome b as taxonomic techniques for differentiating Brazilian tortoises were evaluated in this study. In Brazil, two species of tortoises are described, Chelonoidis carbonarius and Chelonoidis denticulatus. However, in the present study, some animals that were initially recognized based on morphological characters and coloring did not correspond to the typical pattern of C. carbonarius; these animals were classified as morphotypes 1 and 2. It was proposed that these morphotypes are differentiated species, and they should not be considered as a single taxonomic unit with C. carbonarius. Tortoises analyzed were provided by the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA); the Emilio Goeldi Museum, PA; municipal zoos in São José do Rio Preto, SP, and Araçatuba, SP; and the Reginaldo Uvo Leone breeding farm for Wild and Exotic Animals, Tabapuã, SP. Based on the data obtained using biogeographic evaluation of specimens in the literature, it was found that C. carbonarius is distributed in the Northeast Region of Brazil, and no animal of this pattern was observed in the investigated collections. On the other hand, C. denticulatus is found in all the states of the Legal Amazonia. In addition, isolated individual records of this species exist in the Atlantic Forest in Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro and in the Midwest Region composed of the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul. In the Northeast Region, C. denticulatus occurs in the State of Bahia. Morphotype 1 has a wider geographical distribution than C. carbonarius, possibly because of several distribution reports associated with C. carbonarius, indicating erroneous association of morphotype 1 as a single taxonomic unit with C. carbonarius. Morphotype 2 is found only in the states of Pará, Maranhão, and Piauí. These biogeographic data indicate that the

  11. Deserts of China

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Walker, Alta S.

    1982-01-01

    Improving arid land quality requires an understanding of the original state of the land and its relationship to wind, water, and plant regimes, as well as understanding of interactions within the present ecosystem.  Chinese scientists and local residents have made significant advances in improving arid environments in gobi and sandy deserts and in less arid sandy lands.  Wind patterns are being changed by planting forest belts to protect oases and sandy lands, and on a smaller scale by planting grasses and shrubs or constructing straw grids.  Research on reclamation of deserts is now focusing on how sand-fixing plants may be adapted to local environments, and how the resources of grazing land and water may be effectively exploited without being overused.

  12. Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1990-01-01

    One of the driest regions on Earth, the Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa (23.0N, 15.0E) lies adjacent to the Atlantic coast but upwelling oceanic water causes a very stable rainless atmosphere. The few local inland rivers do not reach the sea but instead appear as long indentations where rivers penetrate the dune fields and end as small dry lakes. The vast dune fields are the result of sands deposited over millions of years by the stream flow.

  13. Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1990-01-01

    One of the driest regions on Earth, the Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa (23.0N, 15.0E) lies adjacent to the Atlantic coast but the upwelling oceanic water causes a very stable rainless atmosphere. The few local inland rivers do not reach the sea but instead, appear as long indentations where they penetrate the dune fields and end as small dry lakes. The vast dune fields are the result of sands deposited over millions of years by the stream flow.

  14. Unchanging Desert Sand Dunes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gadhiraju, S.; Banerjee, B.; Buddhiraju, K.; Shah, V.

    2013-12-01

    Deserts are one of the major landforms on earth. They occupy nearly 20% of the total land area but are relatively less studied. With the rise in human population, desert regions are being gradually occupied for settlement posing a management challenge to the concerned authorities. Unrestrained erosion is generally a feature of bare dunes. Stabilized dunes, on the other hand, do not undergo major changes in textures, and can thus facilitate the growth of vegetation. Keeping in view of the above factors, better mapping and monitoring of deserts and particularly of sand dunes is needed. Mapping dunes using field instruments is very arduous and they generate relatively sparse data. In this communication, we present a method of clustering and monitoring sand dunes through imagery captured by remote sensing sensors. Initially Radon spectrum of an area is obtained by decomposition of the image into various projections sampled at finer angular directions. Statistical features such as mode, entropy and standard deviation of Radon spectrum are used in delineation and clustering of regions with different dune orientations. These clustered boundaries are used to detect if there are any changes occurring in the dune regions. In the experiment's, remote sensing data covering various dune regions of the world are observed for possible changes in dune orientations. In all the cases, it is seen that there are no major changes in desert dune orientations. While these findings have implications for understanding of dune geomorphology and changes occurring in dune directions, they also highlight the importance of a wider study of dunes and their evolution both at regional and global scales. Results for Dataset 1 & Dataset 2 Results for Dataset 3

  15. Deserts and Arid Lands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brown, Glen F.

    The exponential growth of global population and often concomitant degradation of the environment has forced human expansion into the more hostile and less well-known terrains of arid lands and deserts. Drought in the African Sahel, with recent wholesale movement of tribes seeking survival, has focused interest in such regions. However, geologic and geomorphic knowledge of deserts has expanded slowly until the last few decades. For instance, the arid cycle of erosion, as conceived by William Morse Davis (now deceased; formerly, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.), with modifications by W. Penck (now deceased; formerly, Leipzig University, Leipzig, German Democratic Republic), and L. C. King (University of Natal and Durban, South Africa), has dominated desert geomorphological deductions until recently. Since World War II and the verification of plate tectonics, the knowledge of arid lands has increased dramatically, especially in synoptic mapping from remote sensing data and space photography, which transcends political boundaries, thanks to the open skies policy of the U.S. space pioneers.

  16. The Desert Crossings of Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cockell, C. S.

    Apart from the polar caps, the Martian volcanoes and the Valles Marineris, ~80% of the martian surface can essentially be classified as `desert'. The methods used to explore Mars, the scientific priorities and the philo- sophical and historical precedents that drive human exploration on Mars will primarily come from our experiences in terrestrial deserts. Here, the methods and approaches used for terrestrial desert expeditions are discussed with reference to Mars. Some of the physical challenges such as low temperature and frost formation will be akin to cold polar desert exploration on Earth. However, some challenges, such as dust storms and lack of liquid water will be akin to hot desert exploration. Expeditions that draw the appropriate lessons from both hot and cold desert terrestrial expeditions will succeed. Examples of major regions on Mars that might be regarded as significant exploratory challenges for expeditions are identified. Key parameters of these expeditions including distance and plausible scientific objectives are provided.

  17. Effects of protective fencing on birds, lizards, and black-tailed hares in the Western Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brooks, M.

    1999-01-01

    Effects of protective fencing on birds, lizards, black-tailed hares (Lepus californicus), perennial plant cover, and structural diversity of perennial plants were evaluated from spring 1994 through winter 1995 at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area (DTNA), in the Mojave Desert, California. Abundance and species richness of birds were higher inside than outside the DTNA, and effects were larger during breeding than wintering seasons and during a high than a low rainfall year. Ash-throated flycatchers (Myiarchus cinerascens), cactus wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus), LeConte's thrashers (Toxostoma lecontei), loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus), sage sparrows (Amphispiza belli), and verdins (Auriparus flaviceps) were more abundant inside than outside the DTNA. Nesting activity was also more frequent inside. Total abundance and species richness of lizards and individual abundances of western whiptail lizards (Cnemidophorous tigris) and desert spiny lizards (Sceloporus magister) were higher inside than outside. In contrast, abundance of black-tailed hares was lower inside. Structural diversity of the perennial plant community did not differ due to protection, but cover was 50% higher in protected areas. Black-tailed hares generally prefer areas of low perennial plant cover, which may explain why they were more abundant outside than inside the DTNA. Habitat structure may not affect bird and lizard communities as much as availability of food at this desert site, and the greater abundance and species richness of vertebrates inside than outside the DTNA may correlate with abundances of seeds and invertebrate prey.

  18. Experiences with Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) microchipping in Slovenia - Short communication.

    PubMed

    Dovč, Alenka; Stvarnik, Mateja; Mavri, Urška; Gregurić-Gračner, Gordana; Tomažić, Iztok

    2016-03-01

    This study describes experiences obtained with microchipping of Hermann's tortoises in Slovenia. Over a period of three years, a total of 5,128 Hermann's tortoises from parental breeding stock were microchipped. Microchips were implanted subcutaneously in the left inguinal region. During the application of microchips, males were bleeding in 2.6% and females in 1.4% of the cases. Bleeding frequency was related to sex, animal size and environmental temperature at the time of microchipping. The presence of microchips was followed up over a period of several years. At the control check conducted a few years later, all previously microchipped tortoises were included. Out of the entire parental breeding stock, 235 (4.6%) had lost their microchips, thus 63 males (5.7%) and 172 females (4.3%) were unmarked. The possible reasons for microchip loss are migration or inactivity of the implanted microchips. PMID:26919141

  19. Clinical management of potential ibuprofen toxicosis in a South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Gladden, Juliet N

    2006-09-01

    This article describes the clinical management of potential ibuprofen toxicosis in South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria). A 2.5-year-old, 0.78-kg Geochelone carbonaria tortoise was presented to the emergency clinic after ingesting solubilized ibuprofen (200 mg) in a gelatin capsule. Treatment on initial presentation consisted of esophagostomy tube placement for gastric lavage and activated charcoal administration, intravenous and intraosseous fluid therapy, and administration of gastrointestinal protectants (sucralfate and famotidine). The tortoise was discharged to the owners. Although follow-up diagnostic monitoring was minimal because of owner compliance, the patient was noted to be alive and in reasonable health 1 year after initial presentation. This is the first report on the management of potential nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug toxicosis in any chelonian species. PMID:16931380

  20. Radial-arm-maze behavior of the red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Mueller-Paul, Julia; Wilkinson, Anna; Hall, Geoffrey; Huber, Ludwig

    2012-08-01

    The radial-arm maze is an established method for testing an animal's spatial win-shift behavior. Research on mammals, birds, and fish has shown that the mastery of this task is commonly mediated, to different degrees, by two types of strategy: those based on external cues and those based on response stereotypy. In the present study we trained four red-footed tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria) to navigate an eight-arm radial maze while providing different levels of access to visual room cues. The results indicate that response stereotypy is the more prevalent mechanism in these tortoises, although navigation based on landmarks can also occur if learned initially. The findings suggest that tortoise spatial navigation may be more similar to that observed in mammals and birds than previously thought. PMID:22390619

  1. Multiple paternity and breeding system in the gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus.

    PubMed

    Moon, Jamie C; McCoy, Earl D; Mushinsky, Henry R; Karl, Stephen A

    2006-01-01

    Little is known about the reproductive behaviors and the actual outcomes of mating attempts in the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). We examined the mating system and reproductive behaviors of a population of gopher tortoises in central Florida. Using microsatellite markers, we assigned fathers to the offspring of seven clutches and determined that multiple fathers were present in two of the seven clutches examined. We found that gopher tortoises exhibited a promiscuous mating system with larger males fertilizing the majority of clutches. The advantage of larger males over smaller males in fertilizing females may be a result of larger males winning access to females in aggressive bouts with other males or larger males may be more attractive to females. Clutches produced by larger females tended to be sired by a single male, whereas clutches of smaller females tended to be sired by multiple males. PMID:16489146

  2. Jeeps Penetrating a Hostile Desert

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bailey, Herb

    2009-01-01

    Several jeeps are poised at base camp on the edge of a desert aiming to escort one of them as far as possible into the desert, while the others return to camp. They all have full tanks of gas and share their fuel to maximize penetration. In a friendly desert it is best to leave caches of fuel along the way to help returning jeeps. We solve the…

  3. Microbial origin of desert varnish.

    PubMed

    Dorn, R I; Oberlander, T M

    1981-09-11

    Scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray analyses of desert varnish reveal that microorganisms concentrate ambient manganese that becomes greatly enhanced in brown to black varnish. Specific characteristics of desert varnish and of varnish bacteria support a microbial origin for manganese-rich films. Varnish microbes can be cultured and produce laboratory manganese films. Accordingly, natural desert varnish and also manganese-rich rock varnishes in nondesert environments appear to be a product of microbial activity. PMID:17744757

  4. Episodic death across species of desert shrubs.

    PubMed

    Miriti, Maria N; Rodríguez-Buriticá, Susana; Wright, S Joseph; Howe, Henry F

    2007-01-01

    Extreme events shape population and community trajectories. We report episodic mortality across common species of thousands of long-lived perennials individually tagged and monitored for 20 years in the Colorado Desert of California following severe regional drought. Demographic records from 1984 to 2004 show 15 years of virtual stasis in populations of adult shrubs and cacti, punctuated by a 55-100% die-off of six of the seven most common perennial species. In this episode, adults that experienced reduced growth in a lesser drought during 1984-1989 failed to survive the drought of 2002. The significance of this event is potentially profound because population dynamics of long-lived plants can be far more strongly affected by deaths of adults, which in deserts potentially live for centuries, than by seedling births or deaths. Differential mortality and rates of recovery during and after extreme climatic events quite likely determine the species composition of plant and associated animal communities for at least decades. The die-off recorded in this closely monitored community provides a unique window into the mechanics of this process of species decline and replacement. PMID:17489450

  5. Persistence of distinctive morphotypes in the native range of the CITES-listed Aldabra giant tortoise.

    PubMed

    Turnbull, Lindsay A; Ozgul, Arpat; Accouche, Wilna; Baxter, Rich; ChongSeng, Lindsay; Currie, Jock C; Doak, Naomi; Hansen, Dennis M; Pistorius, Pierre; Richards, Heather; van de Crommenacker, Janske; von Brandis, Rainer; Fleischer-Dogley, Frauke; Bunbury, Nancy

    2015-12-01

    Understanding the extent of morphological variation in the wild population of Aldabra giant tortoises is important for conservation, as morphological variation in captive populations has been interpreted as evidence for lingering genes from extinct tortoise lineages. If true, this could impact reintroduction programmes in the region. The population of giant tortoises on Aldabra Atoll is subdivided and distributed around several islands. Although pronounced morphological variation was recorded in the late 1960s, it was thought to be a temporary phenomenon. Early researchers also raised concerns over the future of the population, which was perceived to have exceeded its carrying capacity. We analyzed monthly monitoring data from 12 transects spanning a recent 15-year period (1998-2012) during which animals from four subpopulations were counted, measured, and sexed. In addition, we analyzed survival data from individuals first tagged during the early 1970s. The population is stable with no sign of significant decline. Subpopulations differ in density, but these differences are mostly due to differences in the prevailing vegetation type. However, subpopulations differ greatly in both the size of animals and the degree of sexual dimorphism. Comparisons with historical data reveal that phenotypic differences among the subpopulations of tortoises on Aldabra have been apparent for the last 50 years with no sign of diminishing. We conclude that the giant tortoise population on Aldabra is subject to varying ecological selection pressures, giving rise to stable morphotypes in discrete subpopulations. We suggest therefore that (1) the presence of morphological differences among captive Aldabra tortoises does not alone provide convincing evidence of genes from other extinct species; and (2) Aldabra serves as an important example of how conservation and management in situ can add to the scientific value of populations and perhaps enable them to better adapt to future

  6. New tortoise coordinate transformation and Hawking's radiation in de Sitter space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ibohal, N.; Ibungochouba, T.

    2013-01-01

    Hawking's radiation effect of Klein-Gordon equation, Dirac particles and Maxwell's electromagnetic fields in the non-stationary rotating de Sitter cosmological space-time is investigated by using a new method of generalized tortoise coordinate transformation. It is found that the new transformation produces constant additional terms in the expressions of the surface gravities and the Hawking's temperatures. If the constant terms are set to zero, then the surface gravities and Hawking's temperatures will be equal to those obtained from the old generalized tortoise coordinate transformations. This shows that the new transformations are more reasonable. The Fermionic spectrum of Dirac particles displays a new spin-rotation coupling effect.

  7. On the Thermal Property of Arbitrarily Accelerating Charged Black Hole with a New Tortoise Coordinate Transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhenfeng, Niu; Wenbiao, Liu

    2006-07-01

    After a new tortoise coordinate transformation is adopted, the entropy and non-thermal radiation of an arbitrarily accelerating charged black hole are discussed as an example of non-stationary black holes. The same cut-off relation is chosen as static case, which is independent of space-time, and then the entropy of the non-stationary black hole is also proportional to the area of its event horizon. Meanwhile, the crossing of the particle energy levels near the event horizon is studied, the representative of the maximum value of the crossing energy levels is the same as the usual tortoise coordinate transformation.

  8. Diarrhea associated with enterotoxigenic Clostridium perfringens in a red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Weese, J S; Staempfli, H R

    2000-06-01

    Enterotoxigenic Clostridium perfringens was associated with diarrhea in a 4-yr-old female captive-bred red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria). Diagnosis was based on bacterial culture, detection of C. perfringens enterotoxin in feces, and exclusion of commonly recognized pathogens. After treatment with metronidazole, normal feces were passed and C. perfringens enterotoxin was no longer detected in the feces. Although the role of C. perfringens cannot be determined definitively from this case, this pathogen should be considered in cases of diarrhea in tortoises and, perhaps, other reptiles. PMID:10982148

  9. Libyan Desert, Libya, Africa

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1992-01-01

    Desert landscapes such as this part of the northern Sahara (27.0N, 11.0E) may be analogous to other planets which have no soil or plant growth. The dark rocks in this view are probably volcanic in origin and have many stream beds leading into the dune areas. These stream beds carry sediments towards the lower terrain where the water evaporates, leaving the sediments to be wind blown into the complex dune patterns. The red color comes from iron oxides.

  10. Benefits of protective fencing to plant and rodent communities of the western Mojave Desert, California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brooks, Matthew L.

    1995-01-01

    Human disturbance in the western Mojave Desert takes many forms. The most pervasive are livestock grazing and off-highway vehicle use. Over the past few decades several areas within this region have been fenced to preclude human disturbance. These areas provide opportunities to study the impact of human activities in a desert ecosystem. This paper documents the response of plant and small mammal populations to fencing constructed between 1978 and 1979 at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area, Kern County, California. Aboveground live annual plant biomass was generally greater inside than outside the fenced plots during April 1990, 1991, and 1992. The alien grass Schismus barbatus was a notable exception, producing more biomass in the unprotected area. Forb biomass was greater than that of alien annual grasses inside the fence during all three years of the study. Outside the fence, forb biomass was significantly higher than that of alien grasses only during spring 1992. Percent cover of perennial shrubs was higher inside the fence than outside, while no significant trend was detected in density. There was als more seed biomass inside the fence; this may have contributed to the greater diversity and density of Merriam's kangaroo rats ( Dipodomys merriami), long-tailed pocket mice ( Chaetodipus formosus), and southern grasshopper mice ( Onychomys torridus) in the protected area. These results show that protection from human disturbance has many benefits, including greater overall community biomass and diversity. The significance and generality of these results can be further tested by studying other exclosures of varying age and configurations in different desert regions of the southwestern United States.

  11. Desert landscape irrigation

    SciTech Connect

    Quinones, R.

    1995-06-01

    Industrialization can take place in an arid environment if a long term, overall water management program is developed. The general rule to follow is that recharge must equal or exceed use. The main problem encountered in landscape projects is that everyone wants a lush jungle setting, tall shade trees, ferns, with a variety of floral arrangements mixed in. What we want, what we can afford, and what we get are not always the same. Vegetation that requires large quantities of water are not native to any desert. Surprisingly; there are various types of fruit trees, and vegetables that will thrive in the desert. Peaches, plums, nut trees, do well with drip irrigation as well as tomatoes. Shaded berry plans will also do well, the strawberry being one. In summary; if we match our landscape to our area, we can then design our irrigation system to maintain our landscape and grow a variety of vegetation in any arid or semiarid environment. The application of science and economics to landscaping has now come of age.

  12. Supersymmetry without the Desert

    SciTech Connect

    Nomura, Yasunori; Poland, David

    2006-09-26

    Naturalness of electroweak symmetry breaking in weak scale supersymmetric theories may suggest the absence of the conventional supersymmetric desert. We present a simple, realistic framework for supersymmetry in which (most of) the virtues of the supersymmetric desert are naturally reproduced without having a large energy interval above the weak scale. The successful supersymmetric prediction for the low-energy gauge couplings is reproduced due to a gauged R symmetry present in the effective theory at the weak scale. The observable sector superpotential naturally takes the form of the next-to-minimal supersymmetric standard model, but without being subject to the Landau pole constraints up to the conventional unification scale. Supersymmetry breaking masses are generated by the F-term and D-term VEVs of singlet and U(1){sub R} gauge fields, as well as by anomaly mediation, at a scale not far above the weak scale. We study the resulting pattern of supersymmetry breaking masses in detail, and find that it can be quite distinct. We construct classes of explicit models within this framework, based on higher dimensional unified theories with TeV-sized extra dimensions. A similar model based on a non-R symmetry is also presented. These models have a rich phenomenology at the TeV scale, and allow for detailed analyses of, e.g., electroweak symmetry breaking.

  13. Thinking and Writing Mathematically: "Achilles and the Tortoise" as an Algebraic Word Problem.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Martinez, Joseph G. R.

    2001-01-01

    Introduces Hogben's adaptation of Zeno's paradox, "Achilles and the Tortoise", as a thinking and writing exercise. Emphasizes engaging students' imagination with creative, thought-provoking problems and involving students in evaluating their word problem-solving strategies. Describes the paradox, logical solutions, and students' mathematical…

  14. Fermions Tunneling from Bardeen-Vaidya Black Hole via General Tortoise Coordinate Transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kai, Lin; Shuzheng, Yang

    In this paper, we research on the scalar field particles and 1/2 spin fermions tunneling from the event horizon of Bardeen-Vaidya black hole by semiclassical method and general tortoise coordinate transformation, and obtain the Hawking temperature and tunneling rate near the event horizon.

  15. Occurrence of Camallanus trispinosus in a captive Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans).

    PubMed

    Jeyathilakan, N; Raman, M; Jayathangaraj, M G

    2015-03-01

    Camallanoids are spirurid round worms known to occur in stomach and intestine of lower vertebrate animals such as fishes and reptiles. This paper records the occurrence of Camallanus trispinosus in a captive Indian star tortoise of Guindy snake park, Chennai, India for the first time during necropsy and identified on the basis of morphology of male and female worms, including eggs. PMID:25698874

  16. Mortality of captive tortoises due to viviparous nematodes of the genus Proatractis (Family Atractidae).

    PubMed

    Rideout, B A; Montali, R J; Phillips, L G; Gardiner, C H

    1987-01-01

    Between September 1982 and January 1984, verminous colitis was diagnosed post mortem in eight red-footed tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria) and three leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) from the reptile collection of the National Zoological Park. This represented 69% of 16 tortoise necropsy accessions for that period. Etiology was determined to be a viviparous pinworm-like nematode of the genus Proatractis (Family Atractidae). Clinical signs were either nonspecific, consisting of anorexia, lethargy, and depression, or were absent. Limited trials with piperazine citrate and fenbendazole appeared to be ineffectual against the parasite and supportive therapy was unsuccessful. Post mortem examination revealed roughening and thickening of the mucosa of the cecum and colon, and in severe cases myriads of tiny (0.5-1.0 cm) nematodes were evident on the mucosal surface. In six tortoises, worms were found also in the small intestine. Histopathologic features in severe cases included mucosal necrosis with parasites and mixed inflammatory cells extending into the tunica muscularis. Focal to diffuse lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates were present consistently in the submucosa of the cecum and colon, and similar but milder lesions occasionally occurred in the small intestine. PMID:3820411

  17. If Animals Could Talk: Bald Eagle, Bear, Florida Panther, Gopher Tortoise, Indigo Snake, Manatee, Otter, Raccoon.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Pinellas County District School Board, Clearwater, FL.

    In this series of booklets, eight Florida animals describe their appearance, habitats, food, behavior, and relationships with humans. Each entry is written for elementary students from the animal's point of view and includes a bibliography. Contained are the life stories of the bald eagle, black bear, Florida panther, gopher tortoise, Eastern…

  18. Fermions Tunneling from Non-Stationary Dilaton-Maxwell Black Hole via General Tortoise Coordinate Transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lin, Kai; Yang, Shu-Zheng

    2009-10-01

    Fermions tunneling of the non-stationary Dilaton-Maxwell black hole is investigated with general tortoise coordinate transformation. The Dirac equation is simplified by semiclassical approximation so that the Hamilton-Jacobi equation is generated. Finally the tunneling rate and the Hawking temperature is calculated.

  19. Qualtum cosmics-and-chaotics--the ultimate tortoise in physics and modern medicine.

    PubMed

    Kothari, M V; Mehta, L A

    1997-01-01

    Qualtum cosmics is the qualitative opposite of quantum mechanics. The flip-side of qualtum cosmics is qualtum chaotics, the two governing much of what is seen as inscrutable in medicine. The Ultimate (Last) Tortoise is close to Einsteinean idea of a Unified Theory, a single concept that can explain whatsoever there is in physics, (and in medicine, or what have you). PMID:10740733

  20. Mitochondrial haplotype diversity in the tortoise species Testudo graeca from North Africa and the Middle East

    PubMed Central

    van der Kuyl, Antoinette C; Ballasina, Donato LP; Zorgdrager, Fokla

    2005-01-01

    Background To help conservation programs of the endangered spur-thighed tortoise and to gain better insight into its systematics, genetic variation and evolution in the tortoise species Testudo graeca (Testudines: Testudinidae) was investigated by sequence analysis of a 394-nucleotide fragment of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene for 158 tortoise specimens belonging to the subspecies Testudo graeca graeca, Testudo graeca ibera, Testudo graeca terrestris, and a newly recognized subspecies Testudo graeca whitei. A 411-nucleotide fragment of the mitochondrial D-loop was additionally sequenced for a subset of 22 T. graeca, chosen because of their 12S gene haplotype and/or geographical origin. Results Haplotype networks generated by maximum-likelihood and neighbor-joining analyses of both the separate and the combined sequence data sets suggested the existence of two main clades of Testudo graeca, comprising Testudo graeca from northern Africa and Testudo graeca from the Turkey and the Middle East, respectively. Conclusion Mitochondrial DNA haplotyping suggests that the tortoise subspecies of T. g. graeca and T. g. ibera are genetically distinct, with a calculated divergence time in the early or middle Pleistocene. Other proposed subspecies could not clearly be recognized based upon their mt haplotypes and phylogenetic position, and were either part of the T. g. graeca or of the T. g. ibera clade, suggesting that genetic evidence for the existence of most of the 15 proposed subspecies of T. graeca is weak. PMID:15836787

  1. Do Handling and Transport Stress Influence Adrenocortical Response in the Tortoises (Testudo hermanni)?

    PubMed Central

    Medica, Pietro; Ferlazzo, Adriana

    2014-01-01

    The goal of this study was to analyze circulating cortisol levels from tortoises (Testudo hermanni) to establish reference intervals and to develop guidelines for the interpretation of the effect of handling and transport stress. Blood samples were obtained from the caudal venous from 23 healthy juvenile tortoises (9 males and 14 females), aged 8–20 years, in basal condition, four weeks prior to and four weeks following handling and short transportation. The study was carried out on the experimental group: 10 tortoises, 4 males and 6 females, and on a control group: 13 tortoises, 5 males and 8 females. Compared to basal values, circulating cortisol concentrations was higher after handling and transport (+286%; P < 0.001), with an increase of +246% (P < 0.001) in males, +236% (P < 0.005) in females, +370% (P < 0.005) in subjects aged 8–12 years, and +240% (P < 0.001) in subjects aged 13–20 years. These observations support the hypotheses that cortisol may act to mediate the effects of handling and transport stress in this species and that four weeks following handling and transport were insufficient to restore their homeostasis. PMID:24977048

  2. The primary structure of hemoglobin D from the Aldabra giant tortoise, Geochelone gigantea.

    PubMed

    Shishikura, Fumio

    2002-02-01

    The complete primary structures of alpha D-2- and beta-globin of hemoglobin D (Hb D) from the Aldabra giant tortoise, Geochelone gigantea, have been constructed by amino acid sequencing analysis in assistance with nucleotide sequencing analysis of PCR fragments amplified using degenerate oligonucleotide primers. Using computer-assisted sequence comparisons, the alpha D-2-globin shared a 92.0% sequence identity versus alpha D-globin of Geochelone carbonaria, a 75.2% versus alpha D-globin of Aves (Rhea americana) and a 62.4% versus alpha A-globin of Hb A expressed in adult red blood cells of Geochelone gigantea. Additionally, judging from their primary structures, an identical beta-globin was common to the two hemoglobin components, Hb A and Hb D. The alpha D-2- and beta-globin genes contained the three-exon and two-intron configurations and showed the characteristic of all functional vertebrate hemoglobin genes except an abnormal GC dinucleotide instead of the invariant GT at the 5' end of the second intron sequence. The introns of alpha D-2-globin gene were both small (224-bp/first intron, 227-bp/second intron) such that they were quite similar to those of adult alpha-type globins; the beta-globin gene has one small intron (approximately 130-bp) and one large intron (approximately 1590-bp). A phylogenetic tree constructed on primary structures of 7 alpha D-globins from Reptilia (4 species of turtles, 2 species of squamates, and 1 species of sphenodontids) and two embryonic alpha-like globins from Aves (Gullus gullus) and Mammals (Homo sapiens) showed the following results: (1) alpha D-globins except those of squamates were clustered, in which Sphenodon punctatus was a closer species to birds than turtles; (2) separation of the alpha A- and alpha D-globin genes occurred approximately 250 million years ago after the embryonic alpha-type globin-genes (pi' and zeta) first split off from the ancestor of alpha-type globin gene family. PMID:12012783

  3. Heavy absorption chillers: The Tortoise technology that can win

    SciTech Connect

    Irwin, F.E.

    1995-06-01

    Why has Absorption taken over 200 years to become a viable technology and secondarily what is the long term potential for heavy absorption technology? A third interesting question may be as some knowledgeable people in the North America industry have professed, is there a Window of Opportunity which was presented by the electric vapor compressor refrigerant issue which will be the last chance for absorption? Of course we know that absorption is not a new technology in 1994. It is however being rediscovered in many parts of the world by specifiers and engineers who are otherwise totally familiar with HVAC systems technology. As has been well documented in Japan, absorption heavy systems have been dominant for some time to the point that over 90% of the new units installed in the heavy systems category are absorption. Further by now 50% of the installed heavy systems tonnage in the country are absorption chillers. It did not take the electric vapor compressor refrigerant issue to make this huge market for absorption and there aren`t too many people in the HVAC business in Japan that view absorption as the {open_quotes}Tortoise technology.{close_quotes} If we only understood what the drivers were in Japan to create this absorption market then perhaps we could understand and possibly predict the long term potential for the technology in other markets of the world. We could actually go to work and look for markets that mirror the prevailing conditions in Japan. There will be those amongst us who will tell you that Japan is a unique market in almost every product category and most certainly with respect to heavy chiller systems.

  4. The phylogeny of Mediterranean tortoises and their close relativesbased on complete mitochondrial genome sequences from museumspecimens

    SciTech Connect

    Parham, James F.; Macey, J. Robert; Papenfuss, Theodore J.; Feldman, Chris R.; Turkozan, Oguz; Polymeni, Rosa; Boore, Jeffrey

    2005-04-29

    As part of an ongoing project to generate a mitochondrial database for terrestrial tortoises based on museum specimens, the complete mitochondrial genome sequences of 10 species and a {approx}14 kb sequence from an eleventh species are reported. The sampling of the present study emphasizes Mediterranean tortoises (genus Testudo and their close relatives). Our new sequences are aligned, along with those of two testudinoid turtles from GenBank, Chrysemys picta and Mauremys reevesii, yielding an alignment of 14,858 positions, of which 3,238 are parsimony informative. We develop a phylogenetic taxonomy for Testudo and related species based on well-supported, diagnosable clades. Several well-supported nodes are recovered, including the monophyly of a restricted Testudo, T. kleinmanni + T. marginata (the Chersus clade), and the placement of the enigmatic African pancake tortoise (Malacochersustornieri) within the predominantly Palearctic greater Testudo group (Testudona tax. nov.). Despite the large amount of sequence reported, there is low statistical support for some nodes within Testudona and Sowe do not propose names for those groups. A preliminary and conservative estimation of divergence times implies a late Miocene diversification for the testudonan clade (6-12 million years ago), matching their first appearance in the fossil record. The multi-continental distribution of testudonan turtles can be explained by the establishment of permanent connections between Europe, Africa, and Asia at this time. The arrival of testudonan turtles to Africa occurred after one or more initial tortoise invasions gave rise to the diverse (>25 species) 'Geochelone complex.'Two unusual genomic features are reported for the mtDNA of one tortoise, M. tornieri: (1) nad4 has a shift of reading frame that we suggest is resolved by translational frameshifting of the mRNA on the ribosome during protein synthesis and (2) there are two copies of the control region and trnF, with the latter

  5. From Continental Priorities to Local Conservation: A Multi-Level Analysis for African Tortoises

    PubMed Central

    Bombi, Pierluigi; D’Amen, Manuela; Luiselli, Luca

    2013-01-01

    Terrestrial tortoises are the most endangered group of vertebrates but they are still largely ignored for defining global conservation priorities. In this paper, we explored within a hierarchical framework the potential contribution of prioritization studies at the continental scale to the planning of local initiatives for the conservation of African tortoises at the regional level. First, we modeled the distribution of all the African tortoise species, we calculated three indicators of conservation priority (i.e. species richness, conservation value, and complementarity), and we carried out a gap analysis at continental scale. Second, we focused on the most important region for tortoise conservation and performed the same analyses at higher resolution. Finally, we compared the results from the two scales for understanding the degree to which they are complementary. Southern Africa emerged from the continental analysis as the most important region for tortoises. Within this area, the high-resolution analysis pointed out specific core sites for conservation. The relative degree of species protection was assessed similarly at the two different resolutions. Two species appeared particularly vulnerable at both scales. Priority indices calculated at high resolution were correlated to the values calculated for the corresponding cells at low resolution but the congruence was stronger for species richness. Our results suggest to integrate the calculation of conservation value and complementarity into a hierarchical framework driven by species richness. The advantages of large scale planning include its broad perspective on complementarity and the capability to identify regions with greatest conservation potential. In this light, continental analyses allow targeting fine scale studies toward regions with maximum priority. The regional analyses at fine scale allow planning conservation measure at a resolution similar to that required for the practical implementation

  6. Evidence for a new species of Cryptosporidium infecting tortoises: Cryptosporidium ducismarci

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Cryptosporidiosis affects the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract of humans as well as of a wide range of companion, farm, laboratory and wild animals. In the past few years, three independent studies have provided strong evidence for the existence of a distinct Cryptosporidium species affecting tortoises and likely circulating in other reptile species as well. A new Cryptosporidium genotype was firstly detected and genetically characterized in a marginated tortoise in Italy in 2007 and named Cryptosporidium sp. ex Testudo marginata CrIT-20. The phylogenetic analysis of this isolate indicated that this Cryptosporidium was unique and belonged to the intestinal clade. These findings were later on confirmed by the detection of genetic homologies of isolates from a python and a chameleon from Spain and by recent research in the United States. The latter study presented both the occurrence of intestinal lesions in a pancake tortoise and a Russian tortoise and the genetic characterization of the isolates, together with the first pictures of the endogenous stages of Cryptosporidium CrIT-20. Phylogenetic inference based on the sequences representing small subunit of the nuclear ribosomal RNA gene (SSU) of these isolates confirmed the pathological findings because this Cryptosporidium was related to the intestinal group and supported previous results in T. marginata from Italy. The present scientific data on the Cryptosporidium CrIT-20 support its classification as a new species of Cryptosporidium causing intestinal diseases in tortoises. Although further morphological (i.e. exogenous stages) and biological aspects (i.e. complete host range) are yet to be elucidated, it is proposed that this Cryptosporidium is designated Cryptosporidium ducismarci. PMID:20338035

  7. Seasonal changes in sex and adrenal steroid hormones of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus).

    PubMed

    Ott, J A; Mendonça, M T; Guyer, C; Michener, W K

    2000-02-01

    We sampled a population of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) from May to October 1997 to determine seasonal cycles of steroid hormones (testosterone, T; 17beta-estradiol, E; and progesterone, P) and related them to observations of mating behavior. In males, plasma T levels peaked in July and August and remained elevated through October. This coincides with the reported time of peak mating and spermatogenesis, indicating that males display an associated pattern of reproduction. In females, E levels were high in September and October. Plasma T levels in females were elevated in May, decreased to basal levels in June and July, and rose again in August and September. Elevated E and T levels correspond to the reported time of peak vitellogenic activity, indicating that females also display an associated cycle. Plasma P in females remained basal throughout the active season, suggesting that ovulation occurs in late winter. We also determined levels of corticosterone (B) to assess the influence of capture stress on tortoises and correlated B levels with tortoise activity patterns and sex steroid levels. We found no seasonal variation in levels of B in males or females. Plasma B levels were not correlated with levels of T or E, but were positively correlated with female P levels. Further, we found no relationship between plasma B levels in males and mean distance moved, mean number of burrows used, or mean home range size. However, there was a significant negative correlation between plasma B levels and male body size. In females, there was no relationship between B levels and mean distance moved, but B levels were significantly negatively correlated with the number of burrows females occupied. Lastly, there was no relationship between levels of B and the number of minutes required to obtain blood from an animal. However, B levels increased with the length of time that a tortoise spent in a trap, suggesting that trapped tortoises do exhibit capture stress. PMID

  8. Survey of Yucca Mountain, Forty-Mile Canyon, and Jackass Flats in Nye County, Nevada for desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii

    SciTech Connect

    Medica, P.A.; O`Farrell, T.P.; Collins, E.

    1981-10-01

    The objective of this brief survey was to determine if G. agassizii is present west of Forty-Mile Canyon in the Yucca Mountain.. area, or along the major access roads which lead through Jackass Flats to Forty-Mile Canyon and Yucca Mountain

  9. A Microscopists View of Desert Varnish from the Sonoran Desert

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Garvie, L. A. J.; Burt, D. M.; Buseck, P. R.

    2009-03-01

    Nanometer-scale element mapping and spectroscopy of desert varnish reveals a dynamic disequilibrium system characterized by post-depositional mineralogical, chemical, and structural changes, activated by liquid water.

  10. Dominance and environmental correlates of alien annual plants in the Mojave Desert, USA

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brooks, M.L.; Berry, K.H.

    2006-01-01

    Land managers are concerned about the negative effects of alien annual plants on native plants, threatened and endangered species such as the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), and ecosystem integrity in the Mojave Desert. Management of alien plants is hampered by a lack of information regarding the dominance and environmental correlates of these species. The results of this study indicate that alien plant species comprised a small fraction of the total annual plant flora, but most of the annual plant community biomass. When rainfall was high in 1995, aliens comprised 6% of the flora and 66% of the biomass. When rainfall was low in 1999, aliens comprised 27% of the flora and 91% of the biomass. Bromus rubens, Schismus spp. (S. arabicus and S. barbatus), and Erodium cicutarium were the predominant alien species during both years, comprising 99% of the alien biomass. B. rubens was more abundant in relatively mesic microhabitats beneath shrub canopies and at higher elevations above 800-1000 m, whereas Schismus spp. and E. cicutarium were more abundant in the relatively arid interspaces between shrubs, and, for Schismus spp., at lower elevations as well. Disturbance variables were more reliable indicators of alien dominance than were productivity or native plant diversity variables, although relationships often varied between years of contrasting rainfall. The strongest environmental correlates occurred between dirt road density and alien species richness and biomass of E. cicutarium, and between frequency and size of fires and biomass of B. rubens.

  11. Nest site characteristics and nesting success of the Western Burrowing Owl in the eastern Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Longshore, Kathleen M.; Crowe, Dorothy E.

    2013-01-01

    We evaluated nest site selection at two spatial scales (microsite, territory) and reproductive success of Western Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) at three spatial scales (microsite, territory, landscape) in the eastern Mojave Desert. We used binary logistic regression within an information-theoretic approach to assess factors influencing nest site choice and nesting success. Microsite-scale variables favored by owls included burrows excavated by desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), burrows with a large mound of excavated soil at the entrance, and a greater number of satellite burrows within 5 m of the nest burrow. At the territory scale, owls preferred patches with greater cover of creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) within 50 m of the nest burrow. An interaction between the presence or absence of a calcic soil horizon layer over the top of the burrow (microsite) and the number of burrows within 50 m (territory) influenced nest site choice. Nesting success was influenced by a greater number of burrows within 5 m of the nest burrow. Total cool season precipitation was a predictor of nesting success at the landscape scale. Conservation strategies can rely on management of habitat for favored and productive nesting sites for this declining species.

  12. Challenge of a desert: revegetation of disturbed desert lands

    SciTech Connect

    Wallace, A.; Romney, E.M.; Hunter, R.B.

    1980-01-01

    The revegetation of disturbed, arid lands is one of the great challenges of a desert. An attempt to encourage it is not an impossible task, however, if the natural and the man-made resources available are utilized and managed. Where rainfall and temperature conditions approach or exceed those of the Great Basin desert, restoration of disturbed land will occur through natural revegetation processes within a reasonable period of time. This is not generally the case in the more arid Mojave Desert areas where the moisture and temperature conditions are less favorable for germination and seedling survival. Restoration of vegetation by natural reseeding can, however, occur within local sites where moisture has concentrated as the result of terrain features forming catchment basins. Otherwise, the natural revegetation processes in the Mojave Desert areas require much longer periods of time (possibly decades or centuries) than are practical for meeting environmental protection standards imposed by current legislation. Through better understanding of the processes governing revegetation and the ability to control them, it is possible for man to more rapidly restore disturbed desert lands. Terrain manipulation to form moisture catchment basins, selection of seed from pioneering shrub species, preservation of existing shrub clump fertile islands in the soil, supplemental fertilization, irrigation, organic amendments, and transplanting vigorous shrub species are some of the important things that can be done to help restore disturbed desert land.

  13. Keeping the desert at bay

    SciTech Connect

    El-Kassas, M.

    1981-02-01

    Man-made desert (areas that are no longer productive) has increased the world's deserts from 36.3 to 43% of the land surface. Desertification involves ecological degradation that makes the land less productive or allows an uneconomic type of vegetation, such as mesquite, to replace an economic plant. The process was first thought to be an encroachment by expanding deserts, but, except for the movement of sand dunes, desertification is now viewed as productive land that deteriorated and was added to the desert. Land is lost to agriculture by erosion, loss of nutrients, compaction, salination, urban development, and pollution. The interacting biosphere, technosphere, and social sphere form the framework of man's existence. An understanding of this framework is crucial to those offering technological assistance to developing countries. (DCK)

  14. Mate desertion in the snail kite

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Beissinger, S.R.; Snyder, N.F.R.

    1988-01-01

    Mate desertion during the breeding cycle was documented at 28 of 36 (78%) snail kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis nests in Florida between 1979 and 1983. Offspring mortality occurred at only one deserted nest, however. Parents that were deserted by their mates continued to care for their young until independence (3?5 additional weeks) and provided snails at a rate similar to that of both parents combined before desertion. Males and females deserted with nearly equal frequency, except in 1982 when more females deserted. No desertion occurred during drought years, whereas desertion occurred at nearly every nest during favourable conditions. The occurrence of mate desertion was generally related to indirect measures of snail abundance: foraging range, snail delivery rates to the young and growth rates. Small broods were deserted more frequently by females than by males and tended to be deserted earlier than large ones. After desertion, deserters had the opportunity to re-mate and nest again since breeding seasons were commonly lengthy, but whether they did so was impossible to determine conclusively in most cases. The deserted bird sometimes incurred increased energetic costs and lost breeding opportunities during periods of monoparental care.

  15. Desert and desertification in Iran

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bahrami, M.

    2009-04-01

    One of the greatest environmental concerns in Iran as in other arid and semiarid countries is the transformation of once productive, or marginally productive, land to deteriorated land and soil unable to support plants and animals. Because the land becomes barren and dry, the process is described as desertification, which occurs as a sequence of events. The area of deserts in Iran is about 340,000 Km2 (less than one fifth of its total area), of which 100,000 Km2 is being used for some cultivation, 120,000 Km2 is subjected to moving sands about 40 % of which is active sand dunes. Most of features and processes usual in world famous deserts are also observed in Iran: low precipitation, high evaporation, poor or lack of vegetation, saline and alkaline soils, low population and small and sparse oases. The deserts of Iran are generally classified in the subtropical, warm, arid and semiarid group, but the effect and presence of some geographical and geoclimatical factors such as height, vicinity to Indian Ocean and so on do some changes in climatic conditions and geographical features causing some local and regional differences in them. Geographically, two groups of deserts have been known in Iran: (1) Coastal deserts which, like a ribbon with variable width, stretch from extreme southeast to extreme southwest, at the north parts of Oman Sea and Persian Gulf. One important feature of these deserts is relatively high humidity which differentiates them from other deserts. This causes an increase in vegetation coverage and hence a decrease in eolian erosion and also a dominance of chemical weathering to that of physical. (2) internal deserts, which rest in central, eastern and southeastern plateau of the country and in independent and semi dependent depressions. This situation, which is due to the surrounding high mountains, blocks humidity entry and causes the aridity of these deserts. Wind as a dominant process in the area causes deflated features such as Reg (desert

  16. A cryptic taxon of Galápagos tortoise in conservation peril

    PubMed Central

    Russello, Michael A; Glaberman, Scott; Gibbs, James P; Marquez, Cruz; Powell, Jeffrey R; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2005-01-01

    As once boldly stated, ‘bad taxonomy can kill’, highlighting the critical importance of accurate taxonomy for the conservation of endangered taxa. The concept continues to evolve almost 15 years later largely because most legal protections aimed at preserving biological diversity are based on formal taxonomic designations. In this paper we report unrecognized genetic divisions within the giant tortoises of the Galápagos. We found three distinct lineages among populations formerly considered a single taxon on the most populous and accessible island of Santa Cruz; their diagnosability, degree of genetic divergence and phylogenetic placement merit the recognition of at least one new taxon. These results demonstrate the fundamental importance of continuing taxonomic investigations to recognize biological diversity and designate units of conservation, even within long-studied organisms such as Galápagos tortoises, whose evolutionary heritage and contribution to human intellectual history warrant them special attention. PMID:17148189

  17. Intraspecific phylogeography of the gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus: RFLP analysis of amplified mtDNA segments.

    PubMed

    Osentoski, M F; Lamb, T

    1995-12-01

    The slow rate of mtDNA evolution in turtles poses a limitation on the levels of intraspecific variation detectable by conventional restriction fragment surveys. We examined mtDNA variation in the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) using an alternative restriction assay, one in which PCR-amplified segments of the mitochondrial genome were digested with tetranucleotide-site endonucleases. Restriction fragment polymorphisms representing four amplified regions were analysed to evaluate population genetic structure among 112 tortoises throughout the species' range. Thirty-six haplotypes were identified, and three major geographical assemblages (Eastern, Western, and Mid-Florida) were resolved by UPGMA and parsimony analyses. Eastern and Western assemblages abut near the Apalachicola drainage, whereas the Mid-Florida assemblage appears restricted to the Brooksville Ridge. The Eastern/Western assemblage boundary is remarkably congruent with phylogeographic profiles for eight additional species from the south-eastern U.S., representing both freshwater and terrestrial realms. PMID:8564009

  18. An annual plant growth proxy in the Mojave Desert using MODIS-EVI data

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Wallace, C.S.A.; Thomas, K.A.

    2008-01-01

    In the arid Mojave Desert, the phenological response of vegetation is largely dependent upon the timing and amount of rainfall, and maps of annual plant cover at any one point in time can vary widely. Our study developed relative annual plant growth models as proxies for annual plant cover using metrics that captured phenological variability in Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) satellite images. We used landscape phenologies revealed in MODIS data together with ecological knowledge of annual plant seasonality to develop a suite of metrics to describe annual growth on a yearly basis. Each of these metrics was applied to temporally-composited MODIS-EVI images to develop a relative model of annual growth. Each model was evaluated by testing how well it predicted field estimates of annual cover collected during 2003 and 2005 at the Mojave National Preserve. The best performing metric was the spring difference metric, which compared the average of three spring MODIS-EVI composites of a given year to that of 2002, a year of record drought. The spring difference metric showed correlations with annual plant cover of R2 = 0.61 for 2005 and R 2 = 0.47 for 2003. Although the correlation is moderate, we consider it supportive given the characteristics of the field data, which were collected for a different study in a localized area and are not ideal for calibration to MODIS pixels. A proxy for annual growth potential was developed from the spring difference metric of 2005 for use as an environmental data layer in desert tortoise habitat modeling. The application of the spring difference metric to other imagery years presents potential for other applications such as fuels, invasive species, and dust-emission monitoring in the Mojave Desert.

  19. Habitat invasibility and dominance by alien annual plants in the western Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brooks, M.L.

    1999-01-01

    Patterns of habitat invasibility and alien dominance, respectively measured as species richness and biomass of alien annual plants, were evaluated in association with four habitat factors at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area (DTNA) in the western Mojave Desert, USA. Habitat factors varied in levels of disturbance outside (high) and inside (low) the DTNA, and in levels of soil nutrients in washlet (high) and hummock (low) topographic positions, in Larrea-north (high), Larrea-south (medium), and interspace (low) microhabitats near creosote bushes (Larrea tridentata), and during 1995 when rainfall was 207% (high) and 1994 when rainfall was 52% (low) of the long-term average. Dominant alien plants included the annual grasses Bromus rubens, Bromus trinii, and Schismus spp., and the forb Erodium cicutarium. Species richness and dominance of alien annual plants were slightly higher where disturbance was high, and much higher where soil nutrients were high. B. rubens and B. trinii were most dominant in washlets and in the Larrea-north microhabitats during both years. These two species evolved in mesic ecosystems, and appeared to be particularly limited by soil nutrients at this site. Schismus spp. and E. cicutarium were also most dominant in washlets, but their dominance varied between interspaces in 1994 and the Larrea-south microhabitat in 1995. Monitoring to detect the invasion of new annual plants should focus on regions of high rainfall and nitrogen deposition and on washes and beneath-canopy microhabitats. The ecological range of each alien species should be evaluated separately, because their evolutionary origins may greatly affect their patterns of invasion and dominance in the Mojave Desert.

  20. An Annual Plant Growth Proxy in the Mojave Desert Using MODIS-EVI Data

    PubMed Central

    Wallace, Cynthia S.A.; Thomas, Kathryn A.

    2008-01-01

    In the arid Mojave Desert, the phenological response of vegetation is largely dependent upon the timing and amount of rainfall, and maps of annual plant cover at any one point in time can vary widely. Our study developed relative annual plant growth models as proxies for annual plant cover using metrics that captured phenological variability in Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) satellite images. We used landscape phenologies revealed in MODIS data together with ecological knowledge of annual plant seasonality to develop a suite of metrics to describe annual growth on a yearly basis. Each of these metrics was applied to temporally-composited MODIS-EVI images to develop a relative model of annual growth. Each model was evaluated by testing how well it predicted field estimates of annual cover collected during 2003 and 2005 at the Mojave National Preserve. The best performing metric was the spring difference metric, which compared the average of three spring MODIS-EVI composites of a given year to that of 2002, a year of record drought. The spring difference metric showed correlations with annual plant cover of R2 = 0.61 for 2005 and R2 = 0.47 for 2003. Although the correlation is moderate, we consider it supportive given the characteristics of the field data, which were collected for a different study in a localized area and are not ideal for calibration to MODIS pixels. A proxy for annual growth potential was developed from the spring difference metric of 2005 for use as an environmental data layer in desert tortoise habitat modeling. The application of the spring difference metric to other imagery years presents potential for other applications such as fuels, invasive species, and dust-emission monitoring in the Mojave Desert.

  1. Genetic studies of freshwater turtle and tortoises: a review of the past 70 years

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    FitzSimmons, Nancy N.; Hart, Kristen M.

    2007-01-01

    Powerful molecular techniques have been developed over many decades for resolving genetic relationships, population genetic structure, patterns of gene flow, mating systems, and the amount of genetic diversity in animals. Genetic studies of turtles were among the earliest and the rapid application of new genetic tools and analytical techniques is still apparent in the literature on turtles. At present, of the 198 freshwater turtles and tortoises that are listed as not extinct by the IUCN Red List, 69 species worldwide are listed as endangered or critically endangered, and an additional 56 species are listed as vulnerable. Of the ca. 300 species of the freshwater turtles and tortoises in the world, ca. 42% are considered to be facing a high risk extinction, and there is a need to focus intense conservation attention on these species. This includes a need to (i) assess our current state of knowledge regarding the application of genetics to studies of freshwater turtles and tortoises and (ii) determine future research directions. Here, we review all available published studies for the past 70 years that were written in English and used genetic markers (e.g. karyotypes, allozymes, DNA loci) to better understand the biology of freshwater turtles and tortoises. We review the types of studies conducted in relation to the species studied and quantify the countries where the studies were performed. We rack the changing use of different genetic markers through time and report on studies focused on aspects of molecular evolution within turtle genomes. We address the usefulness of particular genetic markers to answer phylogenetic questions and present data comparing population genetic structure and mating systems across species. We draw specific attention to whether authors have considered issues to turtle conservation in their research or provided new insights that have been translated into recommendations for conservation management.

  2. Tortoise coordinate and Hawking effect in a dynamical Kerr black hole

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yang, Jian; Zhao, Zheng; Liu, Wenbiao

    2011-02-01

    Hawking effect from a dynamical Kerr black hole is investigated using the improved Damour-Ruffini method with a new tortoise coordinate transformation. Hawking temperature of the black hole can be obtained point by point at the event horizon. It is found that Hawking temperatures of different points on the surface are different. Moreover, the temperature does not turn to zero while the dynamical black hole turns to an extreme one.

  3. General Tortoise Coordinate Transformation in a Dynamical Kerr-Newman Black Hole

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liu, Xian-Ming; Cheng, Su-Jun; Liu, Wen-Biao

    2012-02-01

    Under the extended dynamical tortoise coordinate transformation, Damour-Ruffini method has been applied to calculate the charged particles' Hawking radiation from the apparent horizon of a dynamical Kerr-Newman black hole. It is shown that Hawking radiation is still purely thermal black body spectrum. Moreover, the temperature of Hawking radiation is corresponding to the apparent horizon surface gravity and the first law of thermodynamics can also be constructed successfully on the apparent horizon in the dynamical Kerr-Newman black hole.

  4. The whole world put between to shells: The cosmic symbolism of tortoises and turtles.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rappengluck, M.

    Since the Bronze Age turtles and tortoise were related to a cosmic symbolism by ancient cultures in different parts of the world, with a certain concentration in the northern hemisphere. The paper attempts to categorize aspects of the cosmic turtle symbolism, using mainly an ethnoastronomical approach, partly supported by archaeological evidences. As a result a set of concepts can be identified, which are related to cosmologic, cosmogonic, biological and psychological aspects.

  5. Tortoises as a dietary supplement: A view from the Middle Pleistocene site of Qesem Cave, Israel

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Blasco, Ruth; Rosell, Jordi; Smith, Krister T.; Maul, Lutz Christian; Sañudo, Pablo; Barkai, Ran; Gopher, Avi

    2016-02-01

    Dietary reconstructions can offer an improved perspective on human capacities of adaptation to the environment. New methodological approaches and analytical techniques have led to a theoretical framework for understanding how human groups used and adapted to their local environment. Faunal remains provide an important potential source of dietary information and allow study of behavioural variation and its evolutionary significance. Interest in determining how hominids filled the gaps in large prey availability with small game or what role small game played in pre-Upper Palaeolithic societies is an area of active research. Some of this work has focused on tortoises because they represent an important combination of edible and non-edible resources that are easy to collect if available. The exploitation of these slow-moving animals features prominently in prey choice models because the low handling costs of these reptiles make up for their small body size. Here, we present new taphonomic data from two tortoise assemblages extracted from the lower sequence of the Middle Pleistocene site of Qesem Cave, Israel (420-300 ka), with the aim of assessing the socio-economic factors that may have led to the inclusion of this type of resource in the human diets. We show that hominid damage on large tortoise specimens from Qesem Cave is not unusual and that evidence such as cut marks, percussion marks and consistent patterns of burning suggests established sequences of processing, including cooking in the shell, defleshing, and direct percussion to access the visceral content. These matters make it possible not only to assess the potential role of tortoises as prey, but also to evaluate collecting behaviour in the resource acquisition systems and eco-social strategies at the Acheulo-Yabrudian Cultural Complex (AYCC) in the southern Levant.

  6. Recovery of a nearly extinct Galápagos tortoise despite minimal genetic variation

    PubMed Central

    Milinkovitch, Michel C; Kanitz, Ricardo; Tiedemann, Ralph; Tapia, Washington; Llerena, Fausto; Caccone, Adalgisa; Gibbs, James P; Powell, Jeffrey R

    2013-01-01

    A species of Galápagos tortoise endemic to Española Island was reduced to just 12 females and three males that have been bred in captivity since 1971 and have produced over 1700 offspring now repatriated to the island. Our molecular genetic analyses of juveniles repatriated to and surviving on the island indicate that none of the tortoises sampled in 1994 had hatched on the island versus 3% in 2004 and 24% in 2007, which demonstrates substantial and increasing reproduction in situ once again. This recovery occurred despite the parental population having an estimated effective population size <8 due to a combination of unequal reproductive success of the breeders and nonrandom mating in captivity. These results provide guidelines for adapting breeding regimes in the parental captive population and decreasing inbreeding in the repatriated population. Using simple morphological data scored on the sampled animals, we also show that a strongly heterogeneous distribution of tortoise sizes on Española Island observed today is due to a large variance in the number of animals included in yearly repatriation events performed in the last 40 years. Our study reveals that, at least in the short run, some endangered species can recover dramatically despite a lack of genetic variation and irregular repatriation efforts. PMID:23467700

  7. Phylogeny, Diversity, Distribution, and Host Specificity of Haemoproteus spp. (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida: Haemoproteidae) of Palaearctic Tortoises.

    PubMed

    Javanbakht, Hossein; Kvičerová, Jana; Dvořáková, Nela; Mikulíček, Peter; Sharifi, Mozafar; Kautman, Matej; Maršíková, Aneta; Široký, Pavel

    2015-01-01

    A complex wide-range study on the haemoproteid parasites of chelonians was carried out for the first time. Altogether, 811 samples from four tortoise species from an extensive area between western Morocco and eastern Afghanistan and between Romania and southern Syria were studied by a combination of microscopic and molecular-genetic methods. Altogether 160 Haemoproteus-positive samples were gathered in the area between central Anatolia and eastern Afghanistan. According to variability in the cytochrome b gene, two monophyletic evolutionary lineages were distinguished; by means of microscopic analysis it was revealed that they corresponded to two previously described species-Haemoproteus anatolicum and Haemoproteus caucasica. Their distribution areas overlap only in a narrow strip along the Zagros Mts. range in Iran. This fact suggests the involvement of two different vector species with separated distribution. Nevertheless, no vectors were confirmed. According to phylogenetic analyses, H. caucasica represented a sister group to H. anatolicum, and both of them were most closely related to H. pacayae and H. peltocephali, described from South American river turtles. Four unique haplotypes were revealed in the population of H. caucasica, compared with seven haplotypes in H. anatolicum. Furthermore, H. caucasica was detected in two tortoise species, Testudo graeca and Testudo horsfieldii, providing evidence that Haemoproteus is not strictly host-specific to the tortoise host species. PMID:25939459

  8. Chronic rhinitis associated with herpesviral infection in captive spur-thighed tortoises from Spain.

    PubMed

    Muro, J; Ramis, A; Pastor, J; Velarde, R; Tarres, J; Lavin, S

    1998-07-01

    An epidemic of chronic rhinitis in a population of 50 captive spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca graeca) from Palafrugell (Girona, Spain) is described, in which eight animals died and 12 were euthanatized to perform necropsies and post-mortem studies. The main clinical sign was a bilateral, seromucous rhinitis often accompanied by stomatitis and glossitis. Hematology and serum biochemistry were performed in 33 of the 50 ill animals and in 29 healthy tortoises from three disease-free populations. Lymphocyte count, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity, and alpha-globulin levels were significantly higher in the animals from the sick population. The heterophil count was significantly lower in the sick animals. Some of the diseased tortoises also showed a normocytic-normochromic anemia. Lesions were restricted to the respiratory system and oral cavity. Marked epithelial hyperplasia and presence of a severe mixed inflammatory infiltrate in the epithelium of the oral, nasal, and tracheal mucosae were observed. Electron microscopy demonstrated the presence of intracytoplasmic and intranuclear viral particles of the size, shape, and distribution pattern typical of a herpesvirus. PMID:9706558

  9. Evidence of Fluconazole-Resistant Candida Species in Tortoises and Sea Turtles.

    PubMed

    Brilhante, Raimunda Sâmia Nogueira; Rodrigues, Pedro Henrique de Aragão; de Alencar, Lucas Pereira; Riello, Giovanna Barbosa; Ribeiro, Joyce Fonteles; de Oliveira, Jonathas Sales; Castelo-Branco, Débora de Souza Collares Maia; Bandeira, Tereza de Jesus Pinheiro Gomes; Monteiro, André Jalles; Rocha, Marcos Fábio Gadelha; Cordeiro, Rossana de Aguiar; Moreira, José Luciano Bezerra; Sidrim, José Júlio Costa

    2015-12-01

    The aim of this study was to evaluate the antifungal susceptibility of Candida spp. recovered from tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) and sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Caretta caretta, Lepidochelys olivacea, Eretmochelys imbricata). For this purpose, material from the oral cavity and cloaca of 77 animals (60 tortoises and 17 sea turtles) was collected. The collected specimens were seeded on 2% Sabouraud dextrose agar with chloramphenicol, and the identification was carried out by morphological and biochemical methods. Sixty-six isolates were recovered from tortoises, out of which 27 were C. tropicalis, 27 C. famata, 7 C. albicans, 4 C. guilliermondii and 1 C. intermedia, whereas 12 strains were obtained from sea turtles, which were identified as Candida parapsilosis (n = 4), Candida guilliermondii (n = 4), Candida tropicalis (n = 2), Candida albicans (n = 1) and Candida intermedia (n = 1). The minimum inhibitory concentrations for amphotericin B, itraconazole and fluconazole ranged from 0.03125 to 0.5, 0.03125 to >16 and 0.125 to >64, respectively. Overall, 19 azole-resistant strains (14 C. tropicalis and 5 C. albicans) were found. Thus, this study shows that Testudines carry azole-resistant Candida spp. PMID:26363919

  10. Development of a consensus reverse transcription PCR assay for the specific detection of tortoise picornaviruses.

    PubMed

    Marschang, Rachel E; Ihász, Katalin; Kugler, Renáta; Lengyel, György; Fehér, Enikő; Marton, Szilvia; Bányai, Krisztián; Aqrawi, Tara; Farkas, Szilvia L

    2016-05-01

    Picornaviruses (PVs) of different terrestrial tortoise species, previously designated as Virus "X," have been frequently detected from various tissues by virus isolation in Terrapene heart cell culture as the preferred laboratory method for diagnosis. Here, we describe the development of 2 diagnostic reverse transcription (RT)-PCR-based assays for the identification and characterization of tortoise PVs belonging to the tentative genus Topivirus To test the novel diagnostic systems, PVs were isolated from swab and tissue samples collected in Germany, Italy, and Hungary between 2000 and 2013. All 25 tested isolates gave positive results with both novel consensus primer sets. Sequencing of the amplified products confirmed that all studied viruses were members of the new proposed genus Topivirus Phylogenetic analyses clearly distinguished 2 lineages within the genus. Based on sequence analysis, no association was observed between the geographic distribution and genetic relatedness. Furthermore, no strict host specificity was indicated. The PCR-based diagnosis may provide a time-saving and sensitive method to detect tortoise PVs, and evaluation of PV presence in these animals may help control virus spread. PMID:27034342

  11. Nitrogen addition increases fecundity in the desert shrub Sarcobatus vermiculatus.

    PubMed

    Drenovsky, R E; Richards, J H

    2005-04-01

    Nutrients, in addition to water, limit desert primary productivity, but nutrient limitations to fecundity and seed quality in desert ecosystems have received little attention. Reduced seed production and quality may affect recruitment, population, and community processes. At the Mono Basin, CA, USA where the alkaline, sandy soil has very low availability of N, P, and most other nutrients, seed production, recruitment, and dominance of the desert shrub Sarcobatus vermiculatus decrease over a dune successional sequence. Concurrently, Sarcobatus leaf N, P, and Ca/Mg ratio decline from early to later successional dunes. At two later successional dune sites, we fertilized adult Sarcobatus shrubs for 2 years and determined which nutrient(s) limited growth, seed production, and seed quality. We also tested whether nutrient addition at these older sites made these fitness-related variables equivalent to a younger, high-fecundity site. Nitrogen addition, alone, increased Sarcobatus leaf N, growth, and seed production per shoot module. Any treatment including P, Ca, Mg, or micronutrients but not N had an insignificant effect on growth and fecundity. Nitrogen addition also increased filled seed weight, a predictor of potential seedling survival, at one of the sites. Nitrogen-limited seed production and seed mass may reduce Sarcobatus fitness and contribute to the observed successional changes in plant community composition in this alkaline desert ecosystem. PMID:15690179

  12. Quantum Tunneling of the Non-stationary Kerr-Newman Black Hole via a New Type of General Tortoise Coordinate Transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Feng, Zhong-Wen; Deng, Juan; Li, Guo-Ping; Yang, Shu-Zheng

    2012-10-01

    In this paper, the quantum tunneling of the non-stationary Kerr-Newman black hole is investigated via Hamilton-Jacobi equation and two types of general tortoise coordinate transformations. The tunneling rates, the Hawking temperatures and radiation spectrums are derived respectively. Our result shows that the new type of general tortoise coordinate transformation is more reasonable.

  13. Phytoremediation for Oily Desert Soils

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Radwan, Samir

    This chapter deals with strategies for cleaning oily desert soils through rhizosphere technology. Bioremediation involves two major approaches; seeding with suitable microorganisms and fertilization with microbial growth enhancing materials. Raising suitable crops in oil-polluted desert soils fulfills both objectives. The rhizosphere of many legume and non-legume plants is richer in oil-utilizing micro-organisms than non-vegetated soils. Furthermore, these rhizospheres also harbour symbiotic and asymbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and are rich in simple organic compounds exuded by plant roots. Those exudates are excellent nutrients for oil-utilizing microorganisms. Since many rhizospheric bacteria have the combined activities of hydrocarbon-utilization and nitrogen fixation, phytoremediation provides a feasible and environmentally friendly biotechnology for cleaning oil-polluted soils, especially nitrogen-poor desert soils.

  14. In the Green Desert: Non-formal Distance Education Project for Nomadic Women of the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. Education for All: Making It Work. Innovations Series, 12.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Robinson, Bernadette

    With the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, Mongolia was severed from its exterior financial and technical support. The dramatic shift in socioeconomic conditions created a need for new forms of adult education. The nomadic women of the Gobi Desert were targeted as most at risk, and the Gobi Women's Project conducted a needs assessment in…

  15. Hawking effect and quantum nonthermal radiation of an arbitrarily accelerating charged black hole using a new tortoise coordinate transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pan, Wei-Zhen; Yang, Xue-Jun; Xie, Zhi-Kun

    2011-04-01

    Using a new tortoise coordinate transformation, this paper investigates the Hawking effect from an arbitrarily accelerating charged black hole by the improved Damour—Ruffini method. After the tortoise coordinate transformation, the Klein—Gordon equation can be written as the standard form at the event horizon. Then extending the outgoing wave from outside to inside of the horizon analytically, the surface gravity and Hawking temperature can be obtained automatically. It is found that the Hawking temperatures of different points on the surface are different. The quantum nonthermal radiation characteristics of a black hole near the event horizon is also discussed by studying the Hamilton—Jacobi equation in curved spacetime and the maximum overlap of the positive and negative energy levels near the event horizon is given. There is a dimensional problem in the standard tortoise coordinate and the present results may be more reasonable.

  16. Description of a New Galapagos Giant Tortoise Species (Chelonoidis; Testudines: Testudinidae) from Cerro Fatal on Santa Cruz Island

    PubMed Central

    Chiari, Ylenia; Garrick, Ryan C.; Russello, Michael A.; Benavides, Edgar; Watkins-Colwell, Gregory J.; Glaberman, Scott; Tapia, Washington; Gibbs, James P.; Cayot, Linda J.; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2015-01-01

    The taxonomy of giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) is currently based primarily on morphological characters and island of origin. Over the last decade, compelling genetic evidence has accumulated for multiple independent evolutionary lineages, spurring the need for taxonomic revision. On the island of Santa Cruz there is currently a single named species, C. porteri. Recent genetic and morphological studies have shown that, within this taxon, there are two evolutionarily and spatially distinct lineages on the western and eastern sectors of the island, known as the Reserva and Cerro Fatal populations, respectively. Analyses of DNA from natural populations and museum specimens, including the type specimen for C. porteri, confirm the genetic distinctiveness of these two lineages and support elevation of the Cerro Fatal tortoises to the rank of species. In this paper, we identify DNA characters that define this new species, and infer evolutionary relationships relative to other species of Galapagos tortoises. PMID:26488886

  17. Description of a New Galapagos Giant Tortoise Species (Chelonoidis; Testudines: Testudinidae) from Cerro Fatal on Santa Cruz Island.

    PubMed

    Poulakakis, Nikos; Edwards, Danielle L; Chiari, Ylenia; Garrick, Ryan C; Russello, Michael A; Benavides, Edgar; Watkins-Colwell, Gregory J; Glaberman, Scott; Tapia, Washington; Gibbs, James P; Cayot, Linda J; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2015-01-01

    The taxonomy of giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) is currently based primarily on morphological characters and island of origin. Over the last decade, compelling genetic evidence has accumulated for multiple independent evolutionary lineages, spurring the need for taxonomic revision. On the island of Santa Cruz there is currently a single named species, C. porteri. Recent genetic and morphological studies have shown that, within this taxon, there are two evolutionarily and spatially distinct lineages on the western and eastern sectors of the island, known as the Reserva and Cerro Fatal populations, respectively. Analyses of DNA from natural populations and museum specimens, including the type specimen for C. porteri, confirm the genetic distinctiveness of these two lineages and support elevation of the Cerro Fatal tortoises to the rank of species. In this paper, we identify DNA characters that define this new species, and infer evolutionary relationships relative to other species of Galapagos tortoises. PMID:26488886

  18. Modeling Soil Moisture in the Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Miller, David M.; Hughson, Debra; Schmidt, Kevin M.

    2008-01-01

    The Mojave Desert is an arid region of southeastern California and parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah; the desert occupies more than 25,000 square miles (fig. 1). Ranging from below sea level to over 5,000 feet (1,524 m) in elevation, the Mojave Desert is considered a ?high desert.? On the west and southwest it is bounded by the Sierra Nevada, the San Gabriel, and the San Bernardino Mountains. These imposing mountains intercept moisture traveling inland from the Pacific Ocean, producing arid conditions characterized by extreme fluctuations in daily temperatures, strong seasonal winds, and an average annual precipitation of less than six inches. The Mojave Desert lies farther south and at a lower elevation than the cooler Great Basin Desert and grades southward into the even lower and hotter Sonoran Desert.

  19. As the raven flies: using genetic data to infer the history of invasive common raven (Corvus corax) populations in the Mojave Desert.

    PubMed

    Fleischer, Robert C; Boarman, William I; Gonzalez, Elena G; Godinez, Alvaro; Omland, Kevin E; Young, Sarah; Helgen, Lauren; Syed, Gracia; McIntosh, Carl E

    2008-01-01

    Common raven (Corvus corax) populations in Mojave Desert regions of southern California and Nevada have increased dramatically over the past five decades. This growth has been attributed to increased human development in the region, as ravens have a commensal relationship with humans and feed extensively at landfills and on road-killed wildlife. Ravens, as a partially subsidized predator, also represent a problem for native desert wildlife, in particular threatened desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). However, it is unclear whether the more than 15-fold population increase is due to in situ population growth or to immigration from adjacent regions where ravens have been historically common. Ravens were sampled for genetic analysis at several local sites within five major areas: the West Mojave Desert (California), East Mojave Desert (southern Nevada), southern coastal California, northern coastal California (Bay Area), and northern Nevada (Great Basin). Analyses of mtDNA control region sequences reveal an increased frequency of raven 'Holarctic clade' haplotypes from south to north inland, with 'California clade' haplotypes nearly fixed in the California populations. There was significant structuring among regions for mtDNA, with high F(ST) values among sampling regions, especially between the Nevada and California samples. Analyses of eight microsatellite loci reveal a mostly similar pattern of regional population structure, with considerably smaller, but mostly significant, values. The greater mtDNA divergences may be due to lower female dispersal relative to males, lower N(e), or effects of high mutation rates on maximal values of F(ST). Analyses indicate recent population growth in the West Mojave Desert and a bottleneck in the northern California populations. While we cannot rule out in situ population growth as a factor, patterns of movement inferred from our data suggest that the increase in raven populations in the West Mojave Desert resulted from

  20. Evidence for and geomorphologic consequences of a reptilian ecosystem engineer: The burrowing cascade initiated by the Gopher Tortoise

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kinlaw, A.; Grasmueck, M.

    2012-07-01

    Physical ecosystem engineers often make major, durable physical constructs that can provide living space for other species and can structure local animal communities over evolutionary time. In Florida, a medium sized chelonian, the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) will excavate extensive subterranean chambers that can endure for long periods of time. The tortoise starts a 'burrowing cascade', by first excavating a larger burrow that may extend 10 m, which is then re-engineered by Florida Mice (Podomys floridanus) and other rodents that dig smaller side-burrows and pockets. This sequence is often followed by an invertebrate, the camel cricket (Ceuthophilus labibuli) which is reported to excavate even smaller chambers. Our first aim was to quantify the zoogeomorphic impact of this burrowing cascade by measuring the amount of soil excavated in a large sample of burrows in two communities. Secondly, we hypothesized that the high biodiversity reported for these structures might be related to the quasi-fractal nature of the geometry, following the work of Frontier (1987). To visualize this underground geometry, we used high-resolution 3D Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), which provided images and insights previously unobtainable using excavations or 2D GPR. Our images verified that the active tortoise burrow had a spiraling shape, but also showed splits in the larger burrow apparently dug by tortoises. For the first time, the smaller Florida Mouse burrows were imaged, showing side loops that exit and re-renter the tortoise burrow. This study also presents new information by making the discovery of numerous remnants of past tortoise burrows underground in the sampling grid surrounding the active burrow. Our third aim was to interpret our field results with previous ecological field studies to evaluate the strength of evidence that this species ranks as an ecosystem engineer.

  1. Desert Pathfinder at Work

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    2005-09-01

    The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) project celebrates the inauguration of its outstanding 12-m telescope, located on the 5100m high Chajnantor plateau in the Atacama Desert (Chile). The APEX telescope, designed to work at sub-millimetre wavelengths, in the 0.2 to 1.5 mm range, passed successfully its Science Verification phase in July, and since then is performing regular science observations. This new front-line facility provides access to the "Cold Universe" with unprecedented sensitivity and image quality. After months of careful efforts to set up the telescope to work at the best possible technical level, those involved in the project are looking with satisfaction at the fruit of their labour: APEX is not only fully operational, it has already provided important scientific results. "The superb sensitivity of our detectors together with the excellence of the site allow fantastic observations that would not be possible with any other telescope in the world," said Karl Menten, Director of the group for Millimeter and Sub-Millimeter Astronomy at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and Principal Investigator of the APEX project. ESO PR Photo 30/05 ESO PR Photo 30/05 Sub-Millimetre Image of a Stellar Cradle [Preview - JPEG: 400 x 627 pix - 200k] [Normal - JPEG: 800 x 1254 pix - 503k] [Full Res - JPEG: 1539 x 2413 pix - 1.3M] Caption: ESO PR Photo 30/05 is an image of the giant molecular cloud G327 taken with APEX. More than 5000 spectra were taken in the J=3-2 line of the carbon monoxide molecule (CO), one of the best tracers of molecular clouds, in which star formation takes place. The bright peak in the north of the cloud is an evolved star forming region, where the gas is heated by a cluster of new stars. The most interesting region in the image is totally inconspicuous in CO: the G327 hot core, as seen in methanol contours. It is a truly exceptional source, and is one of the richest sources of emission from complex organic molecules in the

  2. Sympatric cattle grazing and desert bighorn sheep foraging

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Garrison, Kyle R.; Cain, James W.; Rominger, Eric M.; Goldstein, Elise J.

    2015-01-01

    Foraging behavior affects animal fitness and is largely dictated by the resources available to an animal. Understanding factors that affect forage resources is important for conservation and management of wildlife. Cattle sympatry is proposed to limit desert bighorn population performance, but few studies have quantified the effect of cattle foraging on bighorn forage resources or foraging behavior by desert bighorn. We estimated forage biomass for desert bighorn sheep in 2 mountain ranges: the cattle-grazed Caballo Mountains and the ungrazed San Andres Mountains, New Mexico. We recorded foraging bout efficiency of adult females by recording feeding time/step while foraging, and activity budgets of 3 age-sex classes (i.e., adult males, adult females, yearlings). We also estimated forage biomass at sites where bighorn were observed foraging. We expected lower forage biomass in the cattle-grazed Caballo range than in the ungrazed San Andres range and lower biomass at cattle-accessible versus inaccessible areas within the Caballo range. We predicted bighorn would be less efficient foragers in the Caballo range. Groundcover forage biomass was low in both ranges throughout the study (Jun 2012–Nov 2013). Browse biomass, however, was 4.7 times lower in the Caballo range versus the San Andres range. Bighorn in the Caballo range exhibited greater overall daily travel time, presumably to locate areas of higher forage abundance. By selecting areas with greater forage abundance, adult females in the Caballo range exhibited foraging bout efficiency similar to their San Andres counterparts but lower overall daily browsing time. We did not find a significant reduction in forage biomass at cattle-accessible areas in the Caballo range. Only the most rugged areas in the Caballo range had abundant forage, potentially a result of intensive historical livestock use in less rugged areas. Forage conditions in the Caballo range apparently force bighorn to increase foraging effort by

  3. Historical DNA analysis reveals living descendants of an extinct species of Galápagos tortoise

    PubMed Central

    Poulakakis, Nikos; Glaberman, Scott; Russello, Michael; Beheregaray, Luciano B.; Ciofi, Claudio; Powell, Jeffrey R.; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2008-01-01

    Giant tortoises, a prominent symbol of the Galápagos archipelago, illustrate the influence of geological history and natural selection on the diversification of organisms. Because of heavy human exploitation, 4 of the 15 known species (Geochelone spp.) have disappeared. Charles Darwin himself detailed the intense harvesting of one species, G. elephantopus, which once was endemic to the island of Floreana. This species was believed to have been exterminated within 15 years of Darwin's historic visit to the Galápagos in 1835. The application of modern DNA techniques to museum specimens combined with long-term study of a system creates new opportunities for identifying the living remnants of extinct taxa in the wild. Here, we use mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite data obtained from museum specimens to show that the population on Floreana was evolutionarily distinct from all other Galápagos tortoise populations. It was demonstrated that some living individuals on the nearby island of Isabela are genetically distinct from the rest of the island's inhabitants. Surprisingly, we found that these “non-native” tortoises from Isabela are of recent Floreana ancestry and closely match the genetic data provided by the museum specimens. Thus, we show that the genetic line of G. elephantopus has not been completely extinguished and still exists in an intermixed population on Isabela. With enough individuals to commence a serious captive breeding program, this finding may help reestablish a species that was thought to have gone extinct more than a century ago and illustrates the power of long-term genetic analysis and the critical role of museum specimens in conservation biology. PMID:18809928

  4. Ranavirus infection of free-ranging and captive box turtles and tortoises in the United States.

    PubMed

    Johnson, April J; Pessier, Allan P; Wellehan, James F X; Childress, April; Norton, Terry M; Stedman, Nancy L; Bloom, David C; Belzer, William; Titus, Valorie R; Wagner, Robert; Brooks, Jason W; Spratt, Jeffrey; Jacobson, Elliott R

    2008-10-01

    Iridoviruses of the genus Ranavirus are well known for causing mass mortality events of fish and amphibians with sporadic reports of infection in reptiles. This article describes five instances of Ranavirus infection in chelonians between 2003 and 2005 in Georgia, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, USA. Affected species included captive Burmese star tortoises (Geochelone platynota), a free-ranging gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), free-ranging eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina), and a Florida box turtle (Terrepene carolina bauri). Evidence for Ranavirus infection was also found in archived material from previously unexplained mass mortality events of eastern box turtles from Georgia in 1991 and from Texas in 1998. Consistent lesions in affected animals included necrotizing stomatitis and/or esophagitis, fibrinous and necrotizing splenitis, and multicentric fibrinoid vasculitis. Intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies were rarely observed in affected tissues. A portion of the major capsid protein (MCP) gene was sequenced from each case in 2003-2005 and found to be identical to each other and to Frog virus 3 (FV3) across 420 base pairs. Ranavirus infections were also documented in sympatric species of amphibians at two locations with infected chelonians. The fragment profiles of HindIII-digested whole genomic DNA of Ranavirus, isolated from a dead Burmese star tortoise and a southern leopard frog (Rana utricularia) found nearby, were similar. The box turtle isolate had a low molecular weight fragment that was not seen in the digestion profiles for the other isolates. These results suggest that certain amphibians and chelonians are infected with a similar virus and that different viruses exist among different chelonians. Amphibians may serve as a reservoir host for susceptible chelonians. This report also demonstrated that significant disease associated with Ranavirus infections are likely more widespread in chelonians than previously suspected. PMID

  5. Distribution of desert varnish in Arizona

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Elvidge, Christopher D.

    1989-01-01

    Desert varnish is the dark coat of clay and ferromanganese oxides developed on exposed rock surfaces in arid regions. It forms from the accretion of material from windblown dust. The distribution of desert varnish was mapped in Arizona. It was discovered that desert varnish could be mapped on a regional scale. Well developed desert varnish is common on stable rock surfaces in areas having alkaline soils and less than about 25 cm of annual precipitation. Rock surfaces in areas having more than 40 cm of annual precipitation are generally devoid of desert varnish. An experiment was conducted with varnished desert pavement stone. The stones were broken in half and half was set on a roof in central Illinois from April until October. Removed from the alkaline desert environment, it only took seven months for the varnish to develop an eroded appearance. This experiment graphically illustrates the dependency of desert varnish on alkalinity. In this context, the zones of eroded desert varnish in Arizona indicate that the area of active desert varnish formation has fluctuated, expanding in drier times and contracting/eroding in wetter times.

  6. Tortoise Coordinates and Hawking Radiation in a Dynamical Spherically Symmetric Spacetime

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yang, Jian; Zhao, Zheng; Tian, Gui-Hua; Liu, Wen-Biao

    2009-12-01

    Hawking effect from dynamical spherical Vaidya black hole, Vaidya-Bonner black hole, and Vaidya-de Sitter black hole is investigated using the improved Damour-Ruffini method. After the new tortoise coordinate transformation in which the position r of event horizon is an undetermined function and the temperature parameter κ is an undetermined constant, the Klein-Gordon equation can be written as the standard form at the event horizon, and both r and κ can be determined automatically. Then extending the outgoing wave from outside to inside of the horizon analytically, the Hawking temperature can also be obtained automatically.

  7. Hidden threat of tortoise ticks: high prevalence of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus in ticks Hyalomma aegyptium in the Middle East

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    It is the first time that Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV), causing potentially lethal disease of humans, has been reported from the Middle East region and from the tortoise tick Hyalomma aegyptium from a tortoise host, whose epidemiological significance may have remained almost completely overlooked so far. We used RT-PCR to screen for 245 ticks collected from 38 Testudo graeca tortoise individuals. Results of our genetic screening provide unambiguous evidence of occurrence of CCHFV in this region and host, suggesting a potentially important role of H. aegyptium in CCHF epidemiology. PMID:24618184

  8. From release to absorption: Elucidating the effects of a desert locust pheromone

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    We used a glass-vial bioassay to test the contact effect of the desert locust pheromone phenylacetonitrile (PAN) on nymphs and adults after 2 hand 4 h respectively, and quantified the amount of the pheromone absorbed and released by the nymphs after 2 h and 12 h. We also monitored the knockdown effe...

  9. Structure and composition of a thrips community in the Chihuahua Desert, New Mexico, U.S.

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The structure and composition of a thysanopteran community was studied on 13 woody and perennial native plants in the Chihuahua Desert. Individual plants were sampled with sticky-traps on 8 dates from May 1997 to September 1998. We sampled 4,763 adult thrips belonging to 26 species in 19 genera, of...

  10. Diet composition of common ravens across the urban-wildland interface of the West Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kristan, W. B., III; Boarman, W.I.; Crayon, J.J.

    2004-01-01

    Common ravens (Corvus corax) are human-subsidized scavengers and predators in the Mojave Desert. They have increased dramatically in number and have been implicated as contributors to the decline in desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) populations. Known patterns of increased fledging success near human developments suggested that food was the most likely resource subsidy received by ravens. Because ravens are opportunistic foragers with a generalist diet, we predicted that the types of resource subsidy provided by different kinds of human developments should be reflected in measures of diet composition of breeding ravens. We estimated diet composition from contents of raven pellets collected at nests and related diet composition to distance of the nests from roads and point sources of resource subsidies, such as towns or landfills. Ravens that nested close to point subsidies far from major roads had the greatest incidence of trash in their diets. Ravens that nested close to roads but far from point subsidies had a low incidence of trash and a higher incidence of presumably road-killed mammals and reptiles. Ravens far from both roads and point subsidies had more plant material and arthropods, and ravens close to both roads and point subsidies had more birds and amphibians. Diet diversity was not related to distance from roads or developments. Fledging success was correlated with diet composition, such that birds with diets consistent with trash or road-kill subsidies fledged the greatest number of chicks. Our results suggest that ravens forage opportunistically on foods available near their nests, and different kinds of human developments contribute different foods. Improved management of landfills and highway fencing to reduce road-kills may help slow the growth of raven populations in the Mojave.

  11. Network topology of the desert rose

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hope, Sigmund; Kundu, Sumanta; Roy, Chandreyee; Manna, Subhrangshu; Hansen, Alex

    2015-09-01

    Desert roses are gypsum crystals that consist of intersecting disks. We determine their geometrical structure using computer assisted tomography. By mapping the geometrical structure onto a graph, the topology of the desert rose is analyzed and compared to a model based on diffusion limited aggregation. By comparing the topology, we find that the model gets a number of the features of the real desert rose right, whereas others do not fit so well.

  12. 77 FR 60981 - TGP Granada, LLC and Roosevelt Wind Ranch, LLC v. Public Service Company of New Mexico, Tortoise...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2012-10-05

    ... From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket Nos. EL12-42-000, EL12-42-001; EL12-43-000, EL12-43-001 TGP Granada, LLC and Roosevelt Wind Ranch, LLC v. Public Service Company of New Mexico, Tortoise Capital...

  13. The age of the Taklimakan Desert.

    PubMed

    Sun, Jimin; Liu, Tungsheng

    2006-06-16

    The Taklimakan Desert is located in the foreland basin of the Tibetan Plateau. We report here the results of stratigraphic investigations of a 1626-meter-thick sequence with interbedded wind-blown silt from the southern marginal Taklimakan Desert. Because the studied section is located downwind of the desert, the eolian silt accumulation is closely linked to desert formation. Our new evidence indicates that shifting sand dunes prevailed in the Tarim Basin by at least 5.3 million years ago, as they do today. We attribute this event to late Cenozoic climatic deterioration, as well as to changes in atmospheric circulation induced by Tibetan Plateau uplift. PMID:16778048

  14. Distribution and habitat utilization of the gopher tortoise tick (Amblyomma tuberculatum) in southern Mississippi

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ennen, Joshua R.; Qualls, Carl P.

    2011-01-01

    The distribution of the gopher tortoise tick (Amblyomma tuberculatum) has been considered intrinsically linked to the distribution of its primary host, gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). However, the presence of G. polyphemus does not always equate to the presence of A. tuberculatum. There is a paucity of data on the ecology, habitat preferences, and distribution of A. tuberculatum. The goals of this study were to assess the distribution of A. tuberculatum in southern Mississippi and to determine which, if any, habitat parameters explain the distribution pattern of A. tuberculatum. During 2006-2007, we examined 13 G. polyphemus populations in southern Mississippi for the presence of A. tuberculatum, and we measured a suite of habitat parameters at each site. Only 23% of the G. polyphemus populations supported A. tuberculatum, suggesting a more restricted distribution than its host. The results of our multivariate analyses identified several habitat variables, e.g., depth of sand and percentage of sand in the topsoil and burrow apron, as being important in discriminating between sites with, and without, A. tuberculatum. Amblyomma tuberculatum was only found at sites with a mean sand depth of >100 cm and a mean percentage of topsoil and burrow apron sand composition >94.0 and 92.4, respectively. Thus, environmental factors, and not just its host's range, seem to influence the distribution of A. tuberculatum.

  15. Distribution and habitat utilization of the gopher tortoise tick (Amblyomma tuberculatum) in Southern Mississippi

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ennen, J.R.; Qualls, C.P.

    2011-01-01

    The distribution of the gopher tortoise tick (Amblyomma tuberculatum) has been considered intrinsically linked to the distribution of its primary host, gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). However, the presence of G. polyphemus does not always equate to the presence of A. tuberculatum. There is a paucity of data on the ecology, habitat preferences, and distribution of A. tuberculatum. The goals of this study were to assess the distribution of A. tuberculatum in southern Mississippi and to determine which, if any, habitat parameters explain the distribution pattern of A. tuberculatum. During 2006-2007, we examined 13 G. polyphemus populations in southern Mississippi for the presence of A. tuberculatum, and we measured a suite of habitat parameters at each site. Only 23% of the G. polyphemus populations supported A. tuberculatum, suggesting a more restricted distribution than its host. The results of our multivariate analyses identified several habitat variables, e.g., depth of sand and percentage of sand in the topsoil and burrow apron, as being important in discriminating between sites with, and without, A. tuberculatum. Amblyomma tuberculatum was only found at sites with a mean sand depth of >100 cm and a mean percentage of topsoil and burrow apron sand composition >94.0 and 92.4, respectively. Thus, environmental factors, and not just its host's range, seem to influence the distribution of A. tuberculatum. ?? American Society of Parasitologists 2011.

  16. Distribution and habitat utilization of the gopher tortoise tick (Amblyomma tuberculatum) in Southern Mississippi.

    PubMed

    Ennen, Joshua R; Qualls, Carl P

    2011-04-01

    The distribution of the gopher tortoise tick ( Amblyomma tuberculatum ) has been considered intrinsically linked to the distribution of its primary host, gopher tortoises ( Gopherus polyphemus ). However, the presence of G. polyphemus does not always equate to the presence of A. tuberculatum . There is a paucity of data on the ecology, habitat preferences, and distribution of A. tuberculatum . The goals of this study were to assess the distribution of A. tuberculatum in southern Mississippi and to determine which, if any, habitat parameters explain the distribution pattern of A. tuberculatum . During 2006-2007, we examined 13 G. polyphemus populations in southern Mississippi for the presence of A. tuberculatum , and we measured a suite of habitat parameters at each site. Only 23% of the G. polyphemus populations supported A. tuberculatum , suggesting a more restricted distribution than its host. The results of our multivariate analyses identified several habitat variables, e.g., depth of sand and percentage of sand in the topsoil and burrow apron, as being important in discriminating between sites with, and without, A. tuberculatum. Amblyomma tuberculatum was only found at sites with a mean sand depth of > 100 cm and a mean percentage of topsoil and burrow apron sand composition > 94.0 and 92.4, respectively. Thus, environmental factors, and not just its host's range, seem to influence the distribution of A. tuberculatum. PMID:21506776

  17. A molecular phylogeny of the gopher tortoises, with comments on familial relationships within the Testudinoidea.

    PubMed

    Lamb, T; Lydeard, C

    1994-12-01

    Sequences from the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene were obtained to examine molecular phylogenetic relationships among the North American gopher tortoises. Data from 352 aligned positions generated a single most-parsimonious tree for each of three analytical approaches: (1) equal weighting, all substitutions; (2) equal weighting, third position changes limited to transversions; and (3) transversions weighted 10 times transitions. Identical topologies for the resulting trees depict the gopher tortoises as a monophyletic group comprising two well-defined clades. Observed sequence divergence (7.0%) between the agassizii (Gopherus agassizii; G. berlandieri) and the polyphemus (G. flavomarginatus; G. polyphemus) clades suggests an Early Miocene separation of these lineages. The cytochrome b phylogeny complements some previous systematic interpretations, including formal taxonomic recognition of the two distinct groups, but is at odds with the most recent morphological analysis. Additional sequence comparisons of selected testudinoid (batagurid, emydid, and testudinid) taxa yielded a phylogeny consistent with a morphologically based hypothesis demonstrating close phylogenetic affinities between the Testudinidae and the "Bataguridae." PMID:7697187

  18. Histological analysis of tissue structures of the internal organs of steppe tortoises following their exposure to spaceflight conditions while circumnavigating the moon aboard the Zond-7 automatic station

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sutulov, L. S.; Sutulov, Y. L.; Trukhina, L. V.

    1975-01-01

    Tortoises flown around the Moon on the 6-1/2 day voyage of the Zond-7 automatic space station evidently did not suffer any pathological changes to their peripheral blood picture, heart, lungs, intestines, or liver.

  19. Magnetic Analysis Techniques Applied to Desert Varnish

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schmidgall, E. R.; Moskowitz, B. M.; Dahlberg, E. D.; Kuhlman, K. R.

    2003-01-01

    Desert varnish is a black or reddish coating commonly found on rock samples from arid regions. Typically, the coating is very thin, less than half a millimeter thick. Previous research has shown that the primary components of desert varnish are silicon oxide clay minerals (60%), manganese and iron oxides (20-30%), and trace amounts of other compounds [1]. Desert varnish is thought to originate when windborne particles containing iron and manganese oxides are deposited onto rock surfaces where manganese oxidizing bacteria concentrate the manganese and form the varnish [4,5]. If desert varnish is indeed biogenic, then the presence of desert varnish on rock surfaces could serve as a biomarker, indicating the presence of microorganisms. This idea has considerable appeal, especially for Martian exploration [6]. Magnetic analysis techniques have not been extensively applied to desert varnish. The only previous magnetic study reported that based on room temperature demagnetization experiments, there were noticeable differences in magnetic properties between a sample of desert varnish and the substrate sandstone [7]. Based upon the results of the demagnetization experiments, the authors concluded that the primary magnetic component of desert varnish was either magnetite (Fe3O4) or maghemite ( Fe2O3).

  20. ECOLOGY OF DESERT SYSTEMS BOOK REVIEW

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The 12 chapters of Whitford's book, Ecology of Desert Systems, summarize the comprehensive experiences and knowledge of a scientist with an extensive research background on a wide variety of physical and biological aspects of desert ecology. The author illustrates facts and concepts presented in th...

  1. Notes from the Great American Desert

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Grady, Marilyn L.; LaCost, Barbara Y.

    2005-01-01

    In the good old days, the state that is Nebraska was identified as part of the Great American Desert. In many ways, in climate and terrain, it still bears a resemblance to a desert. As a frontier or a land of pioneers, it deserves recognition. Invisibility may be one of the greatest challenges women face. One of the great flaws in the writing of…

  2. Desert Test Site Uniformity Analysis

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kerola, Dana X.; Bruegge, Carol J.

    2009-01-01

    Desert test sites such as Railroad Valley (RRV) Nevada, Egypt-1, and Libya-4 are commonly targeted to assess the on-orbit radiometric performance of sensors. Railroad Valley is used for vicarious calibration experiments, where a field-team makes ground measurements to produce accurate estimates of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiances. The Sahara desert test sites are not instrumented, but provide a stable target that can be used for sensor cross-comparisons, or for stability monitoring of a single sensor. These sites are of interest to NASA's Atmospheric Carbon Observation from Space (ACOS) and JAXA's Greenhouse Gas Observation SATellite (GOSAT) programs. This study assesses the utility of these three test sites to the ACOS and GOSAT calibration teams. To simulate errors in sensor-measured radiance with pointing errors, simulated data have been created using MODIS Aqua data. MODIS data are further utilized to validate the campaign data acquired from June 22 through July 5, 2009. The first GOSAT vicarious calibration experiment was conducted during this timeframe.

  3. Desert test site uniformity analysis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kerola, Dana X.; Bruegge, Carol J.

    2009-08-01

    Desert test sites such as Railroad Valley (RRV) Nevada, Egypt-1, and Libya-4 are commonly targeted to assess the on-orbit radiometric performance of sensors. Railroad Valley is used for vicarious calibration experiments, where a field-team makes ground measurements to produce accurate estimates of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiances. The Sahara desert test sites are not instrumented, but provide a stable target that can be used for sensor cross-comparisons, or for stability monitoring of a single sensor. These sites are of interest to NASA's Atmospheric Carbon Observation from Space (ACOS) and JAXA's Greenhouse Gas Observation SATellite (GOSAT) programs. This study assesses the utility of these three test sites to the ACOS and GOSAT calibration teams. To simulate errors in sensor-measured radiance with pointing errors, simulated data have been created using MODIS Aqua data. MODIS data are further utilized to validate the campaign data acquired from June 22 through July 5, 2009. The first GOSAT vicarious calibration experiment was conducted during this timeframe.

  4. Water balance in desert arthropods. Despite their small size, arthropods may be highly adapted for life in xeric conditions.

    PubMed

    Edney, E B

    1967-05-26

    As judged by the number of species, or of individuals, arthropods are an extremely successful group of desert inhabitants. There is very great structural and physiological diversity within the group, and since adaptations to desert life open to one are not open to all. we should not expect to find the maximum possible development of adaptive features in any arthropod simply because it lives in a desert. Most adult insects fly; their larvae and all other arthropods do not, and their adaptations will differ accordingly. Desert beetles have very impermeable cuticles and tolerate high body temperatures, while desert cockroaches live below the sand. have more permeable cuticles, and absorb water vapor. There is probably no single respect in which all desert arthropods differ from insects of other environments. Perhaps a profitable way of viewing desert animals is to recognize that each is a whole organism with a specific collection of adaptations that must be consistent within themselves and which are associated with a specific mode of life and a specific evolutionary history. The arthropod organization is capable of producing highly efficient desert species. There is, however, a converse way of looking at the situation, Which is often neglected but which may be of general biological interest: does the evolution of adaptations to desert environments necessarily involve loss of viability in more mesic habitats? If so, then what are these disavantages- what, for example, is the disadvantage of a highly impermeable cuticle? In some cases the answer is clear: sandroaches need sand dunes to live in because they are morphologically and behaviorly specialized for this habitat. More often the answer is not obvious. PMID:6024185

  5. Design and analysis on the dynamics of ICPF actuated tortoise-like flexible micro-robot

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nie, Lin; Li, Desheng; Guo, Shuxiang

    2006-11-01

    In the paper, we present a novel tortoise-like flexible micro-robot with four legs which can crawl and swim underwater. These legs are actuated by ICPF (Ionic Conducting Polymer Film) which is a kind of smart film and has the characteristics of flexibility, good response and being driven by a low voltage. For improving the robot's reliability and feasibility, we establish the micro-robot's dynamic model by applying Pseudo-Rigid-Body-Dynamic-Model (PRBDM). The model is established by considering the dynamic effect of the robot, which is based on statics and kinematics. Then, the frequency analysis of a micro-robot based on PRBDM is investigated. Based on the PRBDM, the relation between the robot's structure parameters and its natural frequency is theoretically derived and a numerical computation of the robot is performed.

  6. Surfing in tortoises? Empirical signs of genetic structuring owing to range expansion

    PubMed Central

    Graciá, Eva; Botella, Francisco; Anadón, José Daniel; Edelaar, Pim; Harris, D. James; Giménez, Andrés

    2013-01-01

    Much of our current knowledge about the genetic dynamics in range expansions originates from models, simulations and microcosm experiments that need to be corroborated by field data. Here, we report a neutral genetic pattern that matches the predictions of the genetic surfing theory. Genetic surfing occurs when repeated founding events and genetic drift act on the wave of advance of an expanding population, promoting strong spatial structure. In the range expansion of the tortoise Testudo graeca from North Africa to southeastern Spain, we found several genetic signatures consistent with surfing: a decrease of genetic diversity with distance from the initial founder area, clinal patterns in allele frequencies, rare African alleles which have become common at distal sites in the Spanish range, and stronger spatial differentiation in the expanded range than in the original one. Our results provide support for the theory that genetic drift can be an important force in shaping the genetic structure of expanding populations. PMID:23554278

  7. 75 FR 57761 - Desert Southwest Power, LLC; Notice of Filing

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-09-22

    ... Energy Regulatory Commission Desert Southwest Power, LLC; Notice of Filing September 14, 2010. Take notice that on September 10, 2010, Desert Southwest Power, LLC (Desert Southwest) filed responses to the... Commission's July 28, 2010 letter regarding Desert Southwest's petition for declaratory order...

  8. Methane output of tortoises: its contribution to energy loss related to herbivore body mass.

    PubMed

    Franz, Ragna; Soliva, Carla R; Kreuzer, Michael; Hatt, Jean-Michel; Furrer, Samuel; Hummel, Jürgen; Clauss, Marcus

    2011-01-01

    An increase in body mass (M) is traditionally considered advantageous for herbivores in terms of digestive efficiency. However, recently increasing methane losses with increasing M were described in mammals. To test this pattern in non-mammal herbivores, we conducted feeding trails with 24 tortoises of various species (M range 0.52-180 kg) fed a diet of grass hay ad libitum and salad. Mean daily dry matter and gross energy intake measured over 30 consecutive days scaled to M(0.75 (95%CI 0.64-0.87)) and M(0.77 (95%CI 0.66-0.88)), respectively. Methane production was measured over two consecutive days in respiration chambers and scaled to M(1.03 (95%CI 0.84-1.22)). When expressed as energy loss per gross energy intake, methane losses scaled to 0.70 (95%CI 0.47-1.05) M(0.29 (95%CI 0.14-0.45)). This scaling overlaps in its confidence intervals to that calculated for nonruminant mammals 0.79 (95%CI 0.63-0.99) M(0.15 (95%CI 0.09-0.20)), but is lower than that for ruminants. The similarity between nonruminant mammals and tortoises suggest a common evolution of the gut fauna in ectotherms and endotherms, and that the increase in energetic losses due to methane production with increasing body mass is a general allometric principle in herbivores. These findings add evidence to the view that large body size itself does not necessarily convey a digestive advantage. PMID:21408074

  9. Thermal and water relations of desert beetles

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cloudsley-Thompson, J.

    2001-11-01

    The physical problems that living organisms have to contend with in hot deserts are primarily extremes of temperature, low humidity, shortage or absence of free water, and the environmental factors that accentuate these - such as strong winds, sand-storms, lack of shade, rocky and impenetrable soils. Climatic factors are particularly important to smaller animals such as arthropods on account of their relatively enormous surface to volume ratios. Nevertheless, beetles (especially Tenebrionidae and, to a lesser extent, Chrysomelidae) are among the most successful animals of the desert, and are often the only ones to be seen abroad during the day. Similar physical problems are experienced by insects in all terrestrial biomes, but they are much enhanced in the desert. Although climatic extremes are often avoided by burrowing habits coupled with circadian and seasonal activity rhythms, as well as reproductive phenology, several species of desert beetle are nevertheless able to withstand thermal extremes that would rapidly cause the death of most other arthropods including insects. The reactions of desert beetles to heat are largely behavioural whilst their responses to water shortage are primarily physiological. The effects of coloration are not discussed. In addition to markedly low rates of transpiration, desert beetles can also withstand a considerable reduction in the water content of their tissues. The study of desert beetles is important because it illustrates many of the solutions evolved by arthropods to the problems engendered, in an extreme form, by life in all terrestrial environments.

  10. Thermal and water relations of desert beetles.

    PubMed

    Cloudsley-Thompson, J L

    2001-11-01

    The physical problems that living organisms have to contend with in hot deserts are primarily extremes of temperature, low humidity, shortage or absence of free water, and the environmental factors that accentuate these--such as strong winds, sand-storms, lack of shade, rocky and impenetrable soils. Climatic factors are particularly important to smaller animals such as arthropods on account of their relatively enormous surface to volume ratios. Nevertheless, beetles (especially Tenebrionidae and, to a lesser extent, Chrysomelidae) are among the most successful animals of the desert, and are often the only ones to be seen abroad during the day. Similar physical problems are experienced by insects in all terrestrial biomes, but they are much enhanced in the desert. Although climatic extremes are often avoided by burrowing habits coupled with circadian and seasonal activity rhythms, as well as reproductive phenology, several species of desert beetle are nevertheless able to withstand thermal extremes that would rapidly cause the death of most other arthropods including insects. The reactions of desert beetles to heat are largely behavioural whilst their responses to water shortage are primarily physiological. The effects of coloration are not discussed. In addition to markedly low rates of transpiration, desert beetles can also withstand a considerable reduction in the water content of their tissues. The study of desert beetles is important because it illustrates many of the solutions evolved by arthropods to the problems engendered, in an extreme form, by life in all terrestrial environments. PMID:11771473

  11. Effects of added Zn, Ni and Cd on desert shrubs grown in desert soil

    SciTech Connect

    Patel, P.M.; Wallace, A.; Romney, E.M.; Alexander, G.V.

    1980-01-01

    Desert shrubs - Ambrosia dumosa, Lycium andersonii, Larrea tridenata, and Ephedra nevadensis wre grown in a glasshouse in desert (calcarous) soil with different levels of added Zn, Ni, and Cd. The objective was to study effects of the metals on growth and yield and uptake and translocation of metals in desert plant species which are common in the Mojave Desert (areas of Nevada and southeast California). Zinc and Cd considerably decreased yields of all four species. Yields of E. nevadensis were increased by Ni at 250 and 500 mg/kg applied to desert soil. Ephedra nevadensis was more tolerant of Ni than were the other three desert shrubs. Some interactions were observed among various elements: manganese concentration was increased in shrubs by Zn. Particularly, application of Ni reduced the concentrations of Zn and Mn over the control.

  12. Microphytic crusts: 'topsoil' of the desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Belnap, Jayne

    1990-01-01

    Deserts throughout the world are the home of microphytic, or cryptogamic, crusts. These crusts are dominated by cyanobacteria, previously called blue-green algae, and also include lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria. They are critical components of desert ecosystems, significantly modifying the surfaces on which they occur. In the cold deserts of the Colorado Plateau (including parts of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico), these crusts are extraordinarily well-developed, and may represent 70-80% of the living ground cover.

  13. Sterilisation of hybrid Galapagos tortoises (Geochelone nigra) for island restoration. Part 2: phallectomy of males under intrathecal anaesthesia with lidocaine.

    PubMed

    Rivera, S; Divers, S J; Knafo, S E; Martinez, P; Cayot, L J; Tapia-Aguilera, W; Flanagan, J

    2011-01-22

    Lidocaine intrathecal anaesthesia was used to perform phallectomies in 15 hybrid Galapagos tortoises (Geochelone nigra) in a field setting as part of a conservation and ecosystem restoration project in the Galapagos Islands. The intrathecal injection was performed in the dorsal intercoccygeal region of the tail. Once the tail and hindlimbs were relaxed and the phallus was easily exteriorised, phallectomy was performed in a routine manner. All the animals recovered well from the procedure and were walking 30 to 60 minutes after surgery. No adverse effects were noted as a result of lidocaine intrathecal anaesthesia. One of the larger animals had evidence of haemorrhage from the surgical site 48 hours postoperatively. All tortoises continued to make full recoveries and were released on to the island of Pinta in May 2010. PMID:21257586

  14. Desert Dust and Monsoon Rain

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lau, William K. M.; Kim, Kyu-Myong

    2014-01-01

    For centuries, inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent have know that heavy dust events brought on by strong winds occur frequently in the pre-monsoon season, before the onset of heavy rain. Yet scientists have never seriously considered the possibility that natural dust can affect monsoon rainfall. Up to now, most studies of the impacts of aerosols on Indian monsoon rainfall have focused on anthropogenic aerosols in the context of climate change. However, a few recent studies have show that aerosols from antropogenic and natural sources over the Indian subcontinent may affect the transition from break to active monsoon phases on short timescales of days to weeks. Writing in Nature Geoscience, Vinoj and colleagues describe how they have shown that desert dust aerosols over the Arabian Sea and West Asia can strenghten the summer monsoon over the Indial subcontinent in a matter of days.

  15. Desert Dust Satellite Retrieval Intercomparison

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Carboni, E.; Thomas, G. E.; Sayer, A. M.; Siddans, R.; Poulsen, C. A.; Grainger, R. G.; Ahn, C.; Antoine, D.; Bevan, S.; Braak, R.; Brindley, H.; DeSouza-Mchado, S.; Deuze, J. L.; Diner, D.; Ducos, F.; Grey, W.; Hsu, C.; Kalashnikova, O. V.; Kahn, R.; North, P. R. J.; Salustro, C.; Smith, A.; Tanre, D.; Torres, O.; Veihelmann, B.

    2012-01-01

    This work provides a comparison of satellite retrievals of Saharan desert dust aerosol optical depth (AOD) during a strong dust event through March 2006. In this event, a large dust plume was transported over desert, vegetated, and ocean surfaces. The aim is to identify and understand the differences between current algorithms, and hence improve future retrieval algorithms. The satellite instruments considered are AATSR, AIRS, MERIS, MISR, MODIS, OMI, POLDER, and SEVIRI. An interesting aspect is that the different algorithms make use of different instrument characteristics to obtain retrievals over bright surfaces. These include multi-angle approaches (MISR, AATSR), polarisation measurements (POLDER), single-view approaches using solar wavelengths (OMI, MODIS), and the thermal infrared spectral region (SEVIRI, AIRS). Differences between instruments, together with the comparison of different retrieval algorithms applied to measurements from the same instrument, provide a unique insight into the performance and characteristics of the various techniques employed. As well as the intercomparison between different satellite products, the AODs have also been compared to co-located AERONET data. Despite the fact that the agreement between satellite and AERONET AODs is reasonably good for all of the datasets, there are significant differences between them when compared to each other, especially over land. These differences are partially due to differences in the algorithms, such as as20 sumptions about aerosol model and surface properties. However, in this comparison of spatially and temporally averaged data, at least as significant as these differences are sampling issues related to the actual footprint of each instrument on the heterogeneous aerosol field, cloud identification and the quality control flags of each dataset.

  16. Desert potholes: Ephemeral aquatic microsystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Chan, M.A.; Moser, K.; Davis, J.M.; Southam, G.; Hughes, K.; Graham, T.

    2005-01-01

    An enigma of the Colorado Plateau high desert is the "pothole", which ranges from shallow ephemeral puddles to deeply carved pools. The existence of prokaryotic to eukaryotic organisms within these pools is largely controlled by the presence of collected rainwater. Multivariate statistical analysis of physical and chemical limnologic data variables measured from potholes indicates spatial and temporal variations, particularly in water depth, manganese, iron, nitrate and sulfate concentrations and salinity. Variation in water depth and salinity are likely related to the amount of time since the last precipitation, whereas the other variables may be related to redox potential. The spatial and temporal variations in water chemistry affect the distribution of organisms, which must adapt to daily and seasonal extremes of fluctuating temperature (0-60 ??C), pH changes of as much as 5 units over 12 days, and desiccation. For example, many species become dormant when potholes dry, in order to endure intense heat, UV radiation, desiccation and freezing, only to flourish again upon rehydration. But the pothole organisms also have a profound impact on the potholes. Through photosynthesis and respiration, pothole organisms affect redox potential, and indirectly alter the water chemistry. Laboratory examination of dried biofilm from the potholes revealed that within 2 weeks of hydration, the surface of the desiccated, black biofilm became green from cyanobacterial growth, which supported significant growth in heterotrophic bacterial populations. This complex biofilm is persumably responsible for dissolving the cement between the sandstone grains, allowing the potholes to enlarge, and for sealing the potholes, enabling them to retain water longer than the surrounding sandstone. Despite the remarkable ability of life in potholes to persist, desert potholes may be extremely sensitive to anthropogenic effects. The unique limnology and ecology of Utah potholes holds great scientific

  17. Acupuncture for locomotor disabilities in a South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) - a case report.

    PubMed

    Scognamillo-Szabó, Márcia Valéria Rizzo; Santos, André Luiz Quagliatto; Olegário, Maria Marlene Martins; Andrade, Mariana Batista

    2008-12-01

    The literature contains numerous reports of the effect of acupuncture on domestic or experimental animals, but only a few involving wild animals. This paper reports on acupuncture treatment for locomotor disabilities in a South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria, SPIX, 1824), an endangered land tortoise found in Brazils Cerrado region. The animal was captured and kept in an aquatic pen, subsequently developing respiratory symptoms and locomotor disabilities. The respiratory symptoms resolved in response to antibiotic treatment. However, despite the use of nutritional supplements, the motor symptoms remained unchanged. After 16 months, the tortoise was given six acupuncture sessions. No other changes were made to its environment or management. The location of the acupuncture points was transposed from canine charts. After acupuncture, the animals motor functions, which had remained unchanged during the preceding 16 months, were restored, enabling it to eat and walk unaided. The improvement persisted during 18 months follow up. The transposition of acupuncture points from canine charts is a viable alternative for chelonians. PMID:19098697

  18. Kinship, inbreeding and fine-scale spatial structure influence gut microbiota in a hindgut-fermenting tortoise.

    PubMed

    Yuan, Michael L; Dean, Samantha H; Longo, Ana V; Rothermel, Betsie B; Tuberville, Tracey D; Zamudio, Kelly R

    2015-05-01

    Herbivorous vertebrates rely on complex communities of mutualistic gut bacteria to facilitate the digestion of celluloses and hemicelluloses. Gut microbes are often convergent based on diet and gut morphology across a phylogenetically diverse group of mammals. However, little is known about microbial communities of herbivorous hindgut-fermenting reptiles. Here, we investigate how factors at the individual level might constrain the composition of gut microbes in an obligate herbivorous reptile. Using multiplexed 16S rRNA gene sequencing, we characterized the faecal microbial community of a population of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) and examined how age, genetic diversity, spatial structure and kinship influence differences among individuals. We recovered phylotypes associated with known cellulolytic function, including candidate phylum Termite Group 3, suggesting their importance for gopher tortoise digestion. Although host genetic structure did not explain variation in microbial composition and community structure, we found that fine-scale spatial structure, inbreeding, degree of relatedness and possibly ontogeny shaped patterns of diversity in faecal microbiomes of gopher tortoises. Our findings corroborate widespread convergence of faecal-associated microbes based on gut morphology and diet and demonstrate the role of spatial and demographic structure in driving differentiation of gut microbiota in natural populations. PMID:25809385

  19. Sampling and handling of desert soils

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Blank, G. B.; Cameron, R. E.

    1969-01-01

    Report on sampling and handling desert soils includes sections on selection, characterization, and photography of area, site, and soil, sterilization of sampling equipment and containers, and soil sample collection, transport, storage, and dispersal.

  20. Giant viruses of the Kutch Desert.

    PubMed

    Kerepesi, Csaba; Grolmusz, Vince

    2016-03-01

    The Kutch Desert (Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India) is a unique ecosystem: in the larger part of the year it is a hot, salty desert that is flooded regularly in the Indian monsoon season. In the dry season, the crystallized salt deposits form the "white desert" in large regions. The first metagenomic analysis of the soil samples of Kutch was published in 2013, and the data were deposited in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive. At the same time, the sequences were analyzed phylogenetically for prokaryotes, especially for bacteria. In the present work, we identified DNA sequences of recently discovered giant viruses in the soil samples from the Kutch Desert. Since most giant viruses have been discovered in biofilms in industrial cooling towers, ocean water, and freshwater ponds, we were surprised to find their DNA sequences in soil samples from a seasonally very hot and arid, salty environment. PMID:26666442

  1. Desert R.A.T.S. 2011

    NASA Video Gallery

    Desert Research And Technology Studies (D-R.A.T.S) kicks off an exciting new year of field testing. The crew is back in action, testing communication scenarios for near-Earth asteroids, and two new...

  2. Magnetic Analysis Techniques Applied to Desert Varnish

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schmidgall, E. R.; Moskowitz, B. M.; Dahlberg, E. D.; Kuhlman, K. R.

    2003-03-01

    A vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM) and radio frequency superconducting quantum interference device (RF SQUID) have been used to measure the properties of magnetic carriers in samples of black and red rock varnish from the Mojave Desert.

  3. Microbial Fossils Detected in Desert Varnish

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Flood, B. E.; Allen, C.; Longazo, T.

    2003-03-01

    Desert varnish, a mixture of clays, Mn-oxides, and Fe-oxides, is a potential terrestrial analogue to Martian hematite. A scanning electron microscopic examination of samples from Pilbara, Australia revealed evidence of microbial fossilization.

  4. 2011 Desert RATS Sights and Sounds

    NASA Video Gallery

    Watch scenes from the 2011 Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) analog field test, as NASA scientists and engineers drive the Space Exploration Vehicle, assemble equipment in the Habitat D...

  5. Desert varnish: an environmental recorder for Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Randall S.; Sephton, Mark A.

    2006-08-01

    With the prospect of a Mars Sample Return mission in the next two decades, attention is now focusing on the types of samples that would be most useful for returning to Earth for laboratory analysis. Recent data on desert varnish reveal that laminated coatings on rocks from extreme environments are a passive recorder of past and present environments. Martian desert varnish would contain a chronology of the martian setting, perhaps extending back to a wetter and more biologically active period.

  6. Nitrate distribution in Mojave Desert soils

    SciTech Connect

    Hunter, R.B.; Romney, E.M.; Wallace, A.

    1982-07-01

    Extensive sampling shows high variability in nitrate concentration within profiles of Mojave Desert soils. This high variability greatly complicates studies of desert soil N and its ecological role. Patterns in nitrate distribution suggest effects of litter decomposition under shrubs, surface leaching in bare areas, and plant uptake in the root zone. Two mechanisms proposed to explain high concentrations found at seemingly random depths are concentration at drying fronts and distribution along water potential gradients.

  7. Late Quaternary history of the Atacama Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Latorre, Claudio; Betancourt, Julio L.; Rech, Jason A.; Quade, Jay; Holmgren, Camille; Placzek, Christa; Maldonado, Antonio; Vuille, Mathias; Rylander, Kate A.

    2005-01-01

    Of the major subtropical deserts found in the Southern Hemisphere, the Atacama Desert is the driest. Throughout the Quaternary, the most pervasive climatic influence on the desert has been millennial-scale changes in the frequency and seasonality of the scant rainfall, and associated shifts in plant and animal distributions with elevation along the eastern margin of the desert. Over the past six years, we have mapped modern vegetation gradients and developed a number of palaeoenvironmental records, including vegetation histories from fossil rodent middens, groundwater levels from wetland (spring) deposits, and lake levels from shoreline evidence, along a 1200-kilometre transect (16–26°S) in the Atacama Desert. A strength of this palaeoclimate transect has been the ability to apply the same methodologies across broad elevational, latitudinal, climatic, vegetation and hydrological gradients. We are using this transect to reconstruct the histories of key components of the South American tropical (summer) and extratropical (winter) rainfall belts, precisely at those elevations where average annual rainfall wanes to zero. The focus has been on the transition from sparse, shrubby vegetation (known as the prepuna) into absolute desert, an expansive hyperarid terrain that extends from just above the coastal fog zone (approximately 800 metres) to more than 3500 metres in the most arid sectors in the southern Atacama.

  8. Feeding behaviour in a ‘basal’ tortoise provides insights on the transitional feeding mode at the dawn of modern land turtle evolution

    PubMed Central

    Tzankov, Nikolay; Werneburg, Ingmar; Heiss, Egon

    2015-01-01

    Almost all extant testudinids are highly associated with terrestrial habitats and the few tortoises with high affinity to aquatic environments are found within the genus Manouria. Manouria belongs to a clade which forms a sister taxon to all remaining tortoises and is suitable as a model for studying evolutionary transitions within modern turtles. We analysed the feeding behaviour of Manouria emys and due to its phylogenetic position, we hypothesise that the species might have retained some ancestral features associated with an aquatic lifestyle. We tested whether M. emys is able to feed both in aquatic and terrestrial environments. In fact, M. emys repetitively tried to reach submerged food items in water, but always failed to grasp them—no suction feeding mechanism was applied. When feeding on land, M. emys showed another peculiar behaviour; it grasped food items by its jaws—a behaviour typical for aquatic or semiaquatic turtles—and not by the tongue as generally accepted as the typical feeding mode in all tortoises studied so far. In M. emys, the hyolingual complex remained retracted during all food uptake sequences, but the food transport was entirely lingual based. The kinematical profiles significantly differed from those described for other tortoises and from those proposed from the general models on the function of the feeding systems in lower tetrapods. We conclude that the feeding behaviour of M. emys might reflect a remnant of the primordial condition expected in the aquatic ancestor of the tortoises. PMID:26339550

  9. Developmental plasticity of cutaneous water loss and lipid composition in stratum corneum of desert and mesic nestling house sparrows

    PubMed Central

    Muñoz-Garcia, Agustí; Williams, Joseph B.

    2008-01-01

    Intercellular lipids of the stratum corneum (SC), the outer layer of the epidermis, form a barrier to water vapor diffusion through the skin. Previously, we measured cutaneous water loss (CWL) and lipid composition of the SC of adult house sparrows from two populations, one living in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and another living in mesic Ohio. Adult desert house sparrows had a lower CWL, a lower proportion of free fatty acids, and a higher proportion of ceramides and cerebrosides in the SC compared with mesic sparrows. In this study, we investigated developmental plasticity of CWL and lipid composition of the SC in desert and mesic nestling house sparrows reared in low and high humidity and compared our results with previous work on adults. We measured CWL of nestlings and analyzed the lipid composition of the SC using thin-layer chromatography. We showed that nestling house sparrows from both localities had higher CWL than adults in their natural environment, a result of major modifications of the lipid composition of the SC. The expression of plasticity in CWL seems to be a response to opposed selection pressures, thermoregulation and water conservation, at different life stages, on which regulation of CWL plays a crucial role. Desert nestlings showed a greater degree of plasticity in CWL and lipid composition of the SC than did mesic nestlings, a finding consistent with the idea that organisms exposed to more environmental stress ought to be more plastic than individuals living in more benign environments. PMID:18838693

  10. HIGH FOLIAR NITROGEN IN DESERT SHRUBS: AN IMPORTANT ECOSYSTEM TRAIT OR DEFECTIVE DESERT DOCTRINE?

    EPA Science Inventory

    Nitrogen concentrations in green and senesced leaves of perennial desert shrubs were compiled from a worldwide literature search to test the validity of the doctrine that desert shrubs produce foliage and leaf litter much richer in nitrogen than that in the foliage of plants from...

  11. Internal and External Adaptation in Army Families: Lessons from Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Pittman, Joe F.; Kerpelman, Jennifer L.; McFadyen, Jennifer M.

    2004-01-01

    This study examined 1,064 Army families reunited after a member's deployment for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Postdeployment outcomes were conceptualized in terms of the "fit" between the family and the demands of Army life, especially the stress of deployment. A structural model was used to test the hypothesized effects of…

  12. Effects of Sand Dune Stabilization on the Spatial Pattern of Artemisia ordosica Population in Mu Us Desert, Northwest China.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Jiachen; Zhang, Yuqing; Fan, Dongqing; Qin, Shugao; Jia, Xin; Wu, Bin; Chen, Dong; Gao, Hao; Zhu, Linfeng

    2015-01-01

    Vegetation patterns are strongly influenced by sand mobility in desert ecosystems. However, little is known about the spatial patterns of Artemisia ordosica, a dominant shrub in the Mu Us desert of Northwest China, in relation to sand fixation. The aim of this study was to investigate and contrast the effects of sand dune stabilization on the population and spatial distribution of this desert shrub. Spatial autocorrelation, semi-variance analysis, and point-pattern analysis were used jointly in this study to investigate the spatial patterns of A. ordosica populations on dunes in Yanchi County of Ningxia, China. The results showed that the spatial autocorrelation and spatial heterogeneity declined gradually, and the distance between the clustered individuals shortened following sand dune fixation. Seedlings were more aggregated than adults in all stage of dune stabilization, and both were more aggregated on shifting sand dunes separately. Spatial associations of the seedlings with the adults were mostly positive at distances of 0-5 m in shifting sand dunes, and the spatial association changed from positive to neutral in semi-fixed sand dunes. The seedlings were spaced in an almost random pattern around the adults, and their distances from the adults did not seem to affect their locations in semi-fixed sand dunes. Furthermore, spatial associations of the seedlings with the adults were negative in the fixed sand dune. These findings demonstrate that sand stabilization is an important factor affecting the spatial patterns of A. ordosica populations in the Mu Us desert. These findings suggest that, strong association between individuals may be the mechanism to explain the spatial pattern formation at preliminary stage of dune fixation. Sand dune stabilization can change the spatial pattern of shrub population by weakening the spatial association between native shrub individuals, which may affect the development direction of desert shrubs. PMID:26102584

  13. Effects of Sand Dune Stabilization on the Spatial Pattern of Artemisia ordosica Population in Mu Us Desert, Northwest China

    PubMed Central

    Zhang, Jiachen; Zhang, Yuqing; Fan, Dongqing; Qin, Shugao; Jia, Xin; Wu, Bin; Chen, Dong; Gao, Hao; Zhu, Linfeng

    2015-01-01

    Vegetation patterns are strongly influenced by sand mobility in desert ecosystems. However, little is known about the spatial patterns of Artemisia ordosica, a dominant shrub in the Mu Us desert of Northwest China, in relation to sand fixation. The aim of this study was to investigate and contrast the effects of sand dune stabilization on the population and spatial distribution of this desert shrub. Spatial autocorrelation, semi-variance analysis, and point-pattern analysis were used jointly in this study to investigate the spatial patterns of A. ordosica populations on dunes in Yanchi County of Ningxia, China. The results showed that the spatial autocorrelation and spatial heterogeneity declined gradually, and the distance between the clustered individuals shortened following sand dune fixation. Seedlings were more aggregated than adults in all stage of dune stabilization, and both were more aggregated on shifting sand dunes separately. Spatial associations of the seedlings with the adults were mostly positive at distances of 0–5 m in shifting sand dunes, and the spatial association changed from positive to neutral in semi-fixed sand dunes. The seedlings were spaced in an almost random pattern around the adults, and their distances from the adults did not seem to affect their locations in semi-fixed sand dunes. Furthermore, spatial associations of the seedlings with the adults were negative in the fixed sand dune. These findings demonstrate that sand stabilization is an important factor affecting the spatial patterns of A. ordosica populations in the Mu Us desert. These findings suggest that, strong association between individuals may be the mechanism to explain the spatial pattern formation at preliminary stage of dune fixation. Sand dune stabilization can change the spatial pattern of shrub population by weakening the spatial association between native shrub individuals, which may affect the development direction of desert shrubs. PMID:26102584

  14. Desert Amplification in a Warming Climate

    PubMed Central

    Zhou, Liming

    2016-01-01

    Here I analyze the observed and projected surface temperature anomalies over land between 50°S-50°N for the period 1950–2099 by large-scale ecoregion and find strongest warming consistently and persistently seen over driest ecoregions such as the Sahara desert and the Arabian Peninsula during various 30-year periods, pointing to desert amplification in a warming climate. This amplification enhances linearly with the global mean greenhouse gases(GHGs) radiative forcing and is attributable primarily to a stronger GHGs-enhanced downward longwave radiation forcing reaching the surface over drier ecoregions as a consequence of a warmer and thus moister atmosphere in response to increasing GHGs. These results indicate that desert amplification may represent a fundamental pattern of global warming associated with water vapor feedbacks over land in low- and mid- latitudes where surface warming rates depend inversely on ecosystem dryness. It is likely that desert amplification might involve two types of water vapor feedbacks that maximize respectively in the tropical upper troposphere and near the surface over deserts, with both being very dry and thus extremely sensitive to changes of water vapor. PMID:27538725

  15. Desert Amplification in a Warming Climate.

    PubMed

    Zhou, Liming

    2016-01-01

    Here I analyze the observed and projected surface temperature anomalies over land between 50°S-50°N for the period 1950-2099 by large-scale ecoregion and find strongest warming consistently and persistently seen over driest ecoregions such as the Sahara desert and the Arabian Peninsula during various 30-year periods, pointing to desert amplification in a warming climate. This amplification enhances linearly with the global mean greenhouse gases(GHGs) radiative forcing and is attributable primarily to a stronger GHGs-enhanced downward longwave radiation forcing reaching the surface over drier ecoregions as a consequence of a warmer and thus moister atmosphere in response to increasing GHGs. These results indicate that desert amplification may represent a fundamental pattern of global warming associated with water vapor feedbacks over land in low- and mid- latitudes where surface warming rates depend inversely on ecosystem dryness. It is likely that desert amplification might involve two types of water vapor feedbacks that maximize respectively in the tropical upper troposphere and near the surface over deserts, with both being very dry and thus extremely sensitive to changes of water vapor. PMID:27538725

  16. A New General Tortoise Coordinate Transformation and Quantum Tunneling Effect of the Non-Stationary Higher Dimensional Vaidya-de Sitter Black Hole

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Feng, Zhong-wen; Li, Guo-ping; Zhang, Yan; Zu, Xiao-tao

    2015-02-01

    In this paper, we combine the Hamilton-Jacobi equation with a new general tortoise coordinate transformation to study quantum tunneling of scalar particles and fermions from the non-stationary higher dimensional Vaidya-de Sitter black hole. The results show that Hamilton-Jacobi equation is a semi-classical foundation equation which can easily derived from the particles' dynamic equations, it can helps us understand the origin of Hawking radiation. Besides, based on the dimensional analysis, we believed that the new general tortoise coordinate transformation is more reasonable than old ones.

  17. Genetic analysis of a successful repatriation programme: giant Galápagos tortoises.

    PubMed Central

    Milinkovitch, Michel C.; Monteyne, Daniel; Gibbs, James P.; Fritts, Thomas H.; Tapia, Washington; Snell, Howard L.; Tiedemann, Ralph; Caccone, Adalgisa; Powell, Jeffrey R.

    2004-01-01

    As natural populations of endangered species dwindle to precarious levels, remaining members are sometimes brought into captivity, allowed to breed and their offspring returned to the natural habitat. One goal of such repatriation programmes is to retain as much of the genetic variation of the species as possible. A taxon of giant Galápagos tortoises on the island of Española has been the subject of a captive breeding-repatriation programme for 33 years. Core breeders, consisting of 12 females and three males, have produced more than 1200 offspring that have been released on Española where in situ reproduction has recently been observed. Using microsatellite DNA markers, we have determined the maternity and paternity of 132 repatriated offspring. Contributions of the breeders are highly skewed. This has led to a further loss of genetic variation that is detrimental to the long-term survival of the population. Modifications to the breeding programme could alleviate this problem. PMID:15101691

  18. The tortoise and the love-machine: Grey Walter and the politics of electroencephalography.

    PubMed

    Hayward, R

    2001-12-01

    The life of the pioneer electroencephalographer, William Grey Walter, initially appears to be a paradigmatic example of the process of network building and delegation identified by Michel Callon and Bruno Latour. In his professional career, Walter continually repositioned himself, moving from an unhappy beginning as an expert in the apparently unless and suspect technology of the EEG, to become a self-styled crucial mediator in subjects as diverse as medical diagnosis, forensic detection, marriage counseling, and international diplomacy. This position was achieved moreover through the construction and co-option of human and mechanical accomplices - laboratory assistants, electrical tortoises, and mechanical analyzers - which sustained his research and propagated his arguments. However in contrast to Callon and Latour's atomistic account of scientific power and agency, this paper will extend their analysis to explore the impact of network building and delegation on domestic life, human desire, and personal identity. Walter's engagement with the complexities of love and the human brain demonstrates how the transformative power of scientific rhetoric extends simultaneously into both the organization of the world and the subjectivity of the individual. PMID:12180465

  19. Phylogeographic History and Gene Flow Among Giant Galápagos Tortoises on Southern Isabela Island

    PubMed Central

    Ciofi, Claudio; Wilson, Gregory A.; Beheregaray, Luciano B.; Marquez, Cruz; Gibbs, James P.; Tapia, Washington; Snell, Howard L.; Caccone, Adalgisa; Powell, Jeffrey R.

    2006-01-01

    Volcanic islands represent excellent models with which to study the effect of vicariance on colonization and dispersal, particularly when the evolution of genetic diversity mirrors the sequence of geological events that led to island formation. Phylogeographic inference, however, can be particularly challenging for recent dispersal events within islands, where the antagonistic effects of land bridge formation and vicariance can affect movements of organisms with limited dispersal ability. We investigated levels of genetic divergence and recovered signatures of dispersal events for 631 Galápagos giant tortoises across the volcanoes of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul on the island of Isabela. These volcanoes are among the most recent formations in the Galápagos (<0.7 million years), and previous studies based on genetic and morphological data could not recover a consistent pattern of lineage sorting. We integrated nested clade analysis of mitochondrial DNA control region sequences, to infer historical patterns of colonization, and a novel Bayesian multilocus genotyping method for recovering evidence of recent migration across volcanoes using eleven microsatellite loci. These genetic studies illuminate taxonomic distinctions as well as provide guidance to possible repatriation programs aimed at countering the rapid population declines of these spectacular animals. PMID:16387883

  20. Hyperplastic stomatitis and esophagitis in a tortoise (Testudo graeca) associated with an adenovirus infection.

    PubMed

    Garcia-Morante, Beatriz; Pénzes, Judit J; Costa, Taiana; Martorell, Jaime; Martínez, Jorge

    2016-09-01

    A 2-year-old female, spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) was presented with poor body condition (1/5) and weakness. Fecal analysis revealed large numbers of oxyurid-like eggs, and radiographs were compatible with gastrointestinal obstruction. Despite supportive medical treatment, the animal died. At gross examination, an intestinal obstruction was confirmed. Histopathology revealed severe hyperplastic esophagitis and stomatitis with marked epithelial cytomegaly and enormous basophilic intranuclear inclusion bodies. Electron microscopy examination revealed a large number of 60-80 nm, nonenveloped, icosahedral virions arranged in crystalline arrays within nuclear inclusions of esophageal epithelial cells, morphologically compatible with adenovirus-like particles. PCR for virus identification was performed with DNA extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. A nested, consensus pan-adenovirus PCR and sequencing analysis showed a novel adenovirus. According to phylogenetic calculations, it clustered to genus Atadenovirus in contrast with all other chelonian adenoviruses described to date. The present report details the pathologic findings associated with an adenovirus infection restricted to the upper digestive tract. PMID:27486139

  1. Switchable reflector in the Panamanian tortoise beetle Charidotella egregia (Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vigneron, Jean Pol; Pasteels, Jacques M.; Windsor, Donald M.; Vértesy, Zofia; Rassart, Marie; Seldrum, Thomas; Dumont, Jacques; Deparis, Olivier; Lousse, Virginie; Biró, László P.; Ertz, Damien; Welch, Victoria

    2007-09-01

    The tortoise beetle Charidotella egregia is able to modify the structural color of its cuticle reversibly, when disturbed by stressful external events. After field observations, measurements of the optical properties in the two main stable color states and scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope investigations, a physical mechanism is proposed to explain the color switching of this insect. It is shown that the gold coloration displayed by animals at rest arises from a chirped multilayer reflector maintained in a perfect coherent state by the presence of humidity in the porous patches within each layer, while the red color displayed by disturbed animals results from the destruction of this reflector by the expulsion of the liquid from the porous patches, turning the multilayer into a translucent slab that leaves an unobstructed view of the deeper-lying, pigmented red substrate. This mechanism not only explains the change of hue but also the change of scattering mode from specular to diffuse. Quantitative modeling is developed in support of this analysis.

  2. Swing characteristics on tail of tortoise-like flexible micro-robot

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nie, Lin; Zhang, Xinglan; Nie, Rong; Li, Desheng; Guo, Shuxiang

    2007-07-01

    Dynamic effects are very important in improving the design and study of the micro-robot. In the paper, our preliminary work in using ICPF to develop a novel tortoise-like flexible micro-robot with four legs and one tail is reported, which can crawl and swim underwater. ICPF is the abbreviation of Ionic Conducting Polymer gel Film which is a kind of smart film and can give large and fast bending displacement in the presence of a low applied voltage in wet condition. For controlling and analyzing easily the robot, we establish the micro-robot's tail dynamic model by applying Pseudo-Rigid-Body-Dynamic-Model (PRBDM). The model is established by considering the dynamic effect of the robot's tail, which is based on statics and kinematics. Then, the frequency analysis of a micro-robot based on PRBDM is investigated. Based on the PRBDM, the relation between the robot's tail angle displacement and the electrical voltage's frequency ω is theoretically derived and the simulation result for the tail's angle displacement is performed.

  3. Desert pavements and associated rock varnish in the Mojave Desert: How old can they be?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Quade, Jay

    2001-09-01

    Desert pavements are common features of arid landscapes and have been widely used as a relative age indicator of the geomorphic surfaces upon which they are developed. In this study I examined the patterns of pavement development as a function of elevation in the Mojave Desert as well as the causes for the gradual disappearance of pavement at high elevations. Pavement density, as measured by percentage of pebble coverage, decreases systematically with elevation gain by ˜3% per 100 m, from 95% coverage below 500 m to less than 60% at 1700 m. Plants appear to be the main agent of pavement disruption; plant density decreases as pavement density increases. Burrowing by rodents and crusting by cryptobiota also disrupt pavement development at higher elevation. During the last glacial maximum, plant communities were displaced 1000 1400 m downward in the Mojave Desert. Pavements today generally do not survive above the blackbush (Coleogyne ramossisma)-sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) zone. Evidence from packrat middens shows that these and other plants typical of high elevations today grew as low as 300 400 m during the last glacial maximum. I suggest that during the last glacial maximum, desert pavements were confined to the lowest alluvial fans of Death Valley and adjoining low valleys. No alluvial desert pavements above ˜400 m in the region are older than the latest Pleistocene. By the same reasoning, desert varnish on desert pavements above 400 m may all be Holocene in age, except where developed on stable boulders.

  4. Evaluating redband trout habitat in sagebrush desert basins in southwestern Idaho

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zoellick, B.W.; Cade, B.S.

    2006-01-01

    We estimated abundance quantiles of redband trout Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri relative to five site-specific habitat variables (stream shading, bank cover, bank stability, fine sediment in the stream substrate, and cover for adults) and one landscape variable (distance from stream headwaters) on 30 streams in southwestem Idaho during 1993-1998. In addition, the five site-specific habitat variables were used to calculate a habitat suitability rating (HSR) used by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to determine habitat quality of sagebrush desert streams for redband trout. Variation in abundance increased significantly with increasing HSR; the highest abundances were only found with high HSRs, indicating that the HSR model correctly predicted habitat quality for redband trout. However, a model that consisted of stream shade, distance from stream headwaters, and their interaction best predicted redband trout density, explaining 36% of the variation in adult density in sagebrush desert basin streams; stream shade explained most of the variation in redband trout density. When habitat quality was modeled on shade alone, the precision in predicting adult redband trout density was similar to that of the HSR model, as evaluated with tolerance intervals that contained 80% of future observations of redband trout density with 95% confidence. Increasing stream shade in the uppermost 50 km of a stream would result in the greatest increase in redband trout density. We recommend that land managers primarily evaluate the habitat quality of sagebrush desert streams by quantifying the amount of stream shade provided by riparian shrubs and trees. Use of a multivariable habitat model should be retained for desert streams where shade from riparian plant communities is limited.

  5. An Economic View of Food Deserts in the United States

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bitler, Marianne; Haider, Steven J.

    2011-01-01

    Considerable policy and academic attention has been focused on the topic of food deserts. We consider this topic from an economic perspective. First, we consider how the components of a standard economic analysis apply to the study of food deserts. Second, using this economic lens, we revisit the empirical literature on food deserts to assess the…

  6. 75 FR 61467 - Desert Southwest Power, LLC; Notice of Filing

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2010-10-05

    ... From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Desert Southwest Power, LLC; Notice of Filing September 27, 2010. Take notice that on September 24, 2010, Desert Southwest Power, LLC (Desert Southwest) supplemented...

  7. A Reservoir of Nitrate Beneath Desert Soils

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Walvoord, M.A.; Phillips, F.M.; Stonestrom, D.A.; Evans, R.D.; Hartsough, P.C.; Newman, B.D.; Striegl, R.G.

    2003-01-01

    A large reservoir of bioavailable nitrogen (upto ???104 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare, as nitrate) has been previously overlooked in studies of global nitrogen distribution. The reservoir has been accumulating in subsoil zones of and regions throughout the Holocene. Consideration of the subsoil reservoir raises estimates of vadose-zone nitrogen inventories by 14 to 71% for warm deserts and arid shrublands worldwide and by 3 to 16% globally. Subsoil nitrate accumulation indicates long-term leaching from desert soils, impelling further evaluation of nutrient dynamics in xeric ecosystems. Evidence that subsoil accumulations are readily mobilized raises concern about groundwater contamination after land-use or climate change.

  8. Fog Bank, Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1991-01-01

    Fog is the only source of moisture for desert dwelling animals and plants living in the Namib Desert sand dune field, Namibia (23.5N, 15.0E). Coastal stratus clouds provide most of the life supporting moisture as fog droplets in this arid land where the usual annual rainfall is less than a quarter of an inch for decades at a time. In this view, the stratus clouds over the coast conform to the dune pattern proving that the fog is in ground contact.

  9. Hawking Radiation of Dirac Particles from a General Dynamical Spherically Symmetrical Black Hole Using a New Tortoise Coordinate Transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liang, Jun; Zhang, Fang-Hui; Zhang, Wei; Zhang, Jing

    2014-01-01

    By utilizing the improved Damour-Ruffini method with a new tortoise transformation, we study the Hawking radiation of Dirac particles from a general dynamical spherically symmetric black hole. In the improved Damour-Ruffini method, the position of the event horizon of the black hole is an undetermined function, and the temperature parameter κ is an undetermined constant. By requiring the Dirac equation to be the standard wave equation near the event horizon of the black hole, κ can be determined automatically. Therefore, the Hawking temperature can be obtained. The result is consistent with that of the Hawking radiation of scalar particles.

  10. Hawking Radiation and Entropy of a Dynamic Dilaton-Maxwell Black Hole with a New Tortoise Coordinate Transformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lan, Xiao-Gang

    2013-05-01

    By introducing a new tortoise coordinate transformation, we apply Damour-Ruffini-Sannan method to study the Hawking radiation of massive scalar particles in a dynamic Dilaton-Maxwell black hole. We find that Hawking radiation spectrum shows still the blackbody one, while the Hawking temperature is significantly changed. Additionally, by adopting the thin film method, we calculate the entropy of a dynamic Dilaton-Maxwell black hole. The result indicates that the entropy for such a black hole is still in proportional to the area of its event horizon.

  11. 76 FR 50493 - Notice of Availability of the Record of Decision for the Desert Sunlight Holdings, LLC, Desert...

    Federal Register 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

    2011-08-15

    ... on April 15, 2011 (76 FR 21402). Publication of the Notice of Availability for the Final EIS... Holdings, LLC, Desert Sunlight Solar Farm (DSSF) and California Desert Conservation Area Plan Amendment... . SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Desert Sunlight Holdings, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar, Inc.,...

  12. Borrelia sp. infection in coyotes, black-tailed jack rabbits and desert cottontails in southern Texas.

    PubMed

    Burgess, E C; Windberg, L A

    1989-01-01

    Coyotes (Canis latrans) from southern Texas were sampled for antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi from 1980 to 1986; black-tailed jack rabbits (Lepus californicus) and desert cottontails (Sylvilagus audubonii) were sampled in 1986. Coyote fetuses, adult coyote kidneys, and black-tailed jack rabbit and desert cottontail kidneys were cultured for B. burgdorferi in 1986. Results of indirect immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) tests for B. burgdorferi in coyotes were as follows (number positive at a dilution of greater than or equal to 1:128/number tested): 1980 (0 of 30), 1981 (0 of 21), 1982 (0 of 53), 1983 (0 of 78), 1984 (47 of 97), 1985 (20 of 88), and 1986 (42 of 80). Eight of 26 black-tailed jack rabbits and two of seven desert cottontails tested in 1986 had IFA titers to B. burgdorferi of greater than or equal to 1:128. Borrelia burgdorferi was isolated from one of five coyote fetuses, three of 31 adult coyote kidneys, and two of 10 black-tailed jack rabbit kidneys in 1986. These results indicate that B. burgdorferi infection has been present in coyotes in Texas, at least since 1984 and that transplacental transmission occurs. PMID:2644452

  13. A mathematical model on the optimal timing of offspring desertion.

    PubMed

    Seno, Hiromi; Endo, Hiromi

    2007-06-01

    We consider the offspring desertion as the optimal strategy for the deserter parent, analyzing a mathematical model for its expected reproductive success. It is shown that the optimality of the offspring desertion significantly depends on the offsprings' birth timing in the mating season, and on the other ecological parameters characterizing the innate nature of considered animals. Especially, the desertion is less likely to occur for the offsprings born in the later period of mating season. It is also implied that the offspring desertion after a partially biparental care would be observable only with a specific condition. PMID:17328918

  14. Anticancer attributes of desert plants: a review.

    PubMed

    Harlev, Eli; Nevo, Eviatar; Lansky, Ephraim P; Lansky, Shifra; Bishayee, Anupam

    2012-03-01

    The ever-increasing emergence of the resistance of mammalian tumor cells to chemotherapy and its severe side effects reduces the clinical efficacy of a large variety of anticancer agents that are currently in use. Thus, despite the significant progress in cancer therapeutics in the last decades, the need to discover and to develop new, alternative, or synergistic anticancer agents remains. Cancer prevention or chemotherapy based on bioactive fractions or pure components derived from desert plants with known cancer-inhibiting properties suggests promising alternatives to current cancer therapy. Plants growing on low nutrient soils and/or under harsh climatic conditions, such as extreme temperatures, intense solar radiation, and water scarcity, are particularly susceptible to attack from reactive oxygen species and have evolved efficient antioxidation defense systems. The many examples of desert plants displaying anticancer effects as presented here indicates that the same defensive secondary metabolites protecting them against the harsh environment may also play a protective or a curative role against cancer, as they also do against diabetes, neurodegenerative, and other acute and chronic diseases. The present review highlights a plethora of studies focused on the antineoplastic properties of desert plants and their prinicipal phytochemicals, such as saponins, flavonoids, tannins, and terpenes. Although many desert plants have been investigated for their antitumor properties, there are many that still remain to be explored - a challenge for the prospective cancer therapy of the future. PMID:22217921

  15. Modelling emergent patterns of dynamic desert ecosystems

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    In many desert ecosystems vegetation is both patchy and dynamic: vegetated areas are interspersed with patches of bare ground, and both the positioning and the species composition of the vegetated areas exhibit change through time. These characteristics lead to the emergence of multi-scale patterns ...

  16. Metagenomes from the saline desert of kutch.

    PubMed

    Pandit, A S; Joshi, M N; Bhargava, P; Ayachit, G N; Shaikh, I M; Saiyed, Z M; Saxena, A K; Bagatharia, S B

    2014-01-01

    We provide the first report on the metagenomic approach for unveiling the microbial diversity in the saline desert of Kutch. High-throughput metagenomic sequencing of environmental DNA isolated from soil collected from seven locations in Kutch was performed on an Ion Torrent platform. PMID:24831151

  17. Metagenomes from the Saline Desert of Kutch

    PubMed Central

    Pandit, A. S.; Joshi, M. N.; Bhargava, P.; Ayachit, G. N.; Shaikh, I. M.; Saiyed, Z. M.; Saxena, A. K.

    2014-01-01

    We provide the first report on the metagenomic approach for unveiling the microbial diversity in the saline desert of Kutch. High-throughput metagenomic sequencing of environmental DNA isolated from soil collected from seven locations in Kutch was performed on an Ion Torrent platform. PMID:24831151

  18. Reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert

    PubMed Central

    Sabo, John L.; Sinha, Tushar; Bowling, Laura C.; Schoups, Gerrit H. W.; Wallender, Wesley W.; Campana, Michael E.; Cherkauer, Keith A.; Fuller, Pam L.; Graf, William L.; Hopmans, Jan W.; Kominoski, John S.; Taylor, Carissa; Trimble, Stanley W.; Webb, Robert H.; Wohl, Ellen E.

    2010-01-01

    Increasing human appropriation of freshwater resources presents a tangible limit to the sustainability of cities, agriculture, and ecosystems in the western United States. Marc Reisner tackles this theme in his 1986 classic Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. Reisner's analysis paints a portrait of region-wide hydrologic dysfunction in the western United States, suggesting that the storage capacity of reservoirs will be impaired by sediment infilling, croplands will be rendered infertile by salt, and water scarcity will pit growing desert cities against agribusiness in the face of dwindling water resources. Here we evaluate these claims using the best available data and scientific tools. Our analysis provides strong scientific support for many of Reisner's claims, except the notion that reservoir storage is imminently threatened by sediment. More broadly, we estimate that the equivalent of nearly 76% of streamflow in the Cadillac Desert region is currently appropriated by humans, and this figure could rise to nearly 86% under a doubling of the region's population. Thus, Reisner's incisive journalism led him to the same conclusions as those rendered by copious data, modern scientific tools, and the application of a more genuine scientific method. We close with a prospectus for reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert, including a suite of recommendations for reducing region-wide human appropriation of streamflow to a target level of 60%. PMID:21149727

  19. Desert Research and Technology Studies 2008 Report

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Romig, Barbara; Kosmo, Joseph; Gernhardt, Michael; Abercromby, Andrew

    2009-01-01

    During the last two weeks of October 2008, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC) Advanced Extravehicular Activity (AEVA) team led the field test portion of the 2008 Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) near Flagstaff, AZ. The Desert RATS field test activity is the year-long culmination of various individual science and advanced engineering discipline areas technology and operations development efforts into a coordinated field test demonstration under representative (analog) planetary surface terrain conditions. The 2008 Desert RATS was the eleventh RATS field test and was the most focused and successful test to date with participants from six NASA field centers, three research organizations, one university, and one other government agency. The main test objective was to collect Unpressurized Rover (UPR) and Lunar Electric Rover (LER) engineering performance and human factors metrics while under extended periods of representative mission-based scenario test operations involving long drive distances, night-time driving, Extravehicular Activity (EVA) operations, and overnight campover periods. The test was extremely successful with all teams meeting the primary test objective. This paper summarizes Desert RATS 2008 test hardware, detailed test objectives, test operations, and test results.

  20. Extrafloral nectar fuels ant life in deserts

    PubMed Central

    Aranda-Rickert, Adriana; Diez, Patricia; Marazzi, Brigitte

    2014-01-01

    Interactions mediated by extrafloral nectary (EFN)-bearing plants that reward ants with a sweet liquid secretion are well documented in temperate and tropical habitats. However, their distribution and abundance in deserts are poorly known. In this study, we test the predictions that biotic interactions between EFN plants and ants are abundant and common also in arid communities and that EFNs are only functional when new vegetative and reproductive structures are developing. In a seasonal desert of northwestern Argentina, we surveyed the richness and phenology of EFN plants and their associated ants and examined the patterns in ant–plant interaction networks. We found that 25 ant species and 11 EFN-bearing plant species were linked together through 96 pairs of associations. Plants bearing EFNs were abundant, representing ca. 19 % of the species encountered in transects and 24 % of the plant cover. Most ant species sampled (ca. 77 %) fed on EF nectar. Interactions showed a marked seasonal pattern: EFN secretion was directly related to plant phenology and correlated with the time of highest ant ground activity. Our results reveal that EFN-mediated interactions are ecologically relevant components of deserts, and that EFN-bearing plants are crucial for the survival of desert ant communities. PMID:25381258

  1. Desert varnish: the importance of clay minerals.

    PubMed

    Potter, R M; Rossman, G R

    1977-06-24

    Desert varnish has been characterized by infrared spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, and electron microscopy. It is a distinct morphological entity having an abrupt boundary with the underlying rock. Clay minerals comprise more than 70 percent of the varnish. Iron and manganese oxides constitute the bulk of the remainder and are dispersed throughout the clay layer. PMID:17776923

  2. Reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sabo, John L.; Sinha, Tushar; Bowling, Laura C.; Schoups, Gerrit H.W.; Wallender, Wesley W.; Campana, Michael E.; Cherkauer, Keith A.; Fuller, Pam L.; Graf, William L.; Hopmans, Jan W.; Kominoski, John S.; Taylor, Carissa; Trimble, Stanley W.; Webb, Robert H.; Wohl, Ellen E.

    2010-01-01

    Increasing human appropriation of freshwater resources presents a tangible limit to the sustainability of cities, agriculture, and ecosystems in the western United States. Marc Reisner tackles this theme in his 1986 classic Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. Reisner's analysis paints a portrait of region-wide hydrologic dysfunction in the western United States, suggesting that the storage capacity of reservoirs will be impaired by sediment infilling, croplands will be rendered infertile by salt, and water scarcity will pit growing desert cities against agribusiness in the face of dwindling water resources. Here we evaluate these claims using the best available data and scientific tools. Our analysis provides strong scientific support for many of Reisner's claims, except the notion that reservoir storage is imminently threatened by sediment. More broadly, we estimate that the equivalent of nearly 76% of streamflow in the Cadillac Desert region is currently appropriated by humans, and this figure could rise to nearly 86% under a doubling of the region's population. Thus, Reisner's incisive journalism led him to the same conclusions as those rendered by copious data, modern scientific tools, and the application of a more genuine scientific method. We close with a prospectus for reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert, including a suite of recommendations for reducing region-wide human appropriation of streamflow to a target level of 60%.

  3. Antioxidant Activity of Sonoran Desert Bee Pollen

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Bee products have been consumed by mankind since antiquity and their health benefits are becoming more apparent. Bee pollen (pollen collected by honey bees) was collected in the high intensity ultraviolet (UV) Sonoran desert and was analyzed by the anti-2,2-diphenyl-1-picryhydrazyl (DPPH) assay and...

  4. Desert Culture Area. Native American Curriculum Series.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Ross, Cathy; Fernandes, Roger

    One in a series of Native American instructional materials, this booklet introduces elementary students to the history and culture of the Navajo, Pueblo, and other Indian tribes of the southwest desert. Written in simple language, the booklet provides background information, activities, legends, and illustrations. Topics include the climate of the…

  5. An Ecosystem Services Framework for Desert Landscapes

    EPA Science Inventory

    Governments, tribal leaders and citizens of the deserts in North America are facing unprecedented pressures from population growth and climate change. The dominant environmental and economic issue is to ensure that people have access to clean water and sanitation while vital ecos...

  6. Extrafloral nectar fuels ant life in deserts.

    PubMed

    Aranda-Rickert, Adriana; Diez, Patricia; Marazzi, Brigitte

    2014-01-01

    Interactions mediated by extrafloral nectary (EFN)-bearing plants that reward ants with a sweet liquid secretion are well documented in temperate and tropical habitats. However, their distribution and abundance in deserts are poorly known. In this study, we test the predictions that biotic interactions between EFN plants and ants are abundant and common also in arid communities and that EFNs are only functional when new vegetative and reproductive structures are developing. In a seasonal desert of northwestern Argentina, we surveyed the richness and phenology of EFN plants and their associated ants and examined the patterns in ant-plant interaction networks. We found that 25 ant species and 11 EFN-bearing plant species were linked together through 96 pairs of associations. Plants bearing EFNs were abundant, representing ca. 19 % of the species encountered in transects and 24 % of the plant cover. Most ant species sampled (ca. 77 %) fed on EF nectar. Interactions showed a marked seasonal pattern: EFN secretion was directly related to plant phenology and correlated with the time of highest ant ground activity. Our results reveal that EFN-mediated interactions are ecologically relevant components of deserts, and that EFN-bearing plants are crucial for the survival of desert ant communities. PMID:25381258

  7. Microflora in soils of desert regions

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cameron, R. E.

    1970-01-01

    Desert soil samples, collected using aseptic techniques, are low in organic matter and cation exchange capacity. Aerobic and microaerophilic bacteria are most abundant, next are algae and molds. Chemical and physical properties are determined by standard procedures, including the Kjeldahl method and the use of Munsell soil color charts.

  8. Phylogenetic relationships of Trypanosoma chelodina and Trypanosoma binneyi from Australian tortoises and platypuses inferred from small subunit rRNA analyses.

    PubMed

    Jakes, K A; O'Donoghue, P J; Adlard, R D

    2001-11-01

    Trypanosome infections are often difficult to detect by conventional microscopy and their pleomorphy often confounds differential diagnosis. Molecular techniques are now being used to diagnose infections and to determine phylogenetic relationships between species. Complete small subunit rRNA gene sequences were determined for isolates of Trypanosoma chelodina from the Brisbane River tortoise (Emydura signata), the saw-shelled tortoise (Elseya latisternum), and the eastern snake-necked tortoise (Chelodina longicollis) from southeast Queensland, Australia. Partial sequence data were also obtained for T. binneyi from a platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) from Tasmania. Phylogenetic relationships between T. chelodina, T. binneyi and other species were examined by maximum parsimony and likelihood methods. The Australian tortoise and platypus trypanosomes did not exhibit any close phylogenetic relationships with those of mammals, reptiles or amphibians, but were closely related to each other, and to fish trypanosomes. This contra-indicates their co-evolution with their vertebrate hosts but does not exclude co-evolution with different groups of invertebrate vectors, notably insects and leeches. PMID:11719959

  9. Endolithic microbial life in hot and cold deserts

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Friedmann, E. I.

    1980-01-01

    Endolithic microorganisms (those living inside rocks) occur in hot and cold deserts and exist under extreme environmental conditions. These conditions are discussed on a comparative basis. Quantitative estimates of biomass are comparable in hot and cold deserts. Despite the obvious differences between the hot and cold desert environment, survival strategies show some common features. These endolithic organisms are able to 'switch' rapidly their metabolic activities on and off in response to changes in the environment. Conditions in hot deserts impose a more severe environmental stress on the organisms than in the cold Antarctic desert. This is reflected in the composition of the microbial flora which in hot desert rocks consist entirely of prokaryotic microorganisms, while under cold desert conditions eukaryotes predominate.

  10. Is preference a predictor of enrichment efficacy in Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra)?

    PubMed

    Mehrkam, Lindsay R; Dorey, Nicole R

    2014-01-01

    It is widely acknowledged that environmental enrichment plays an important role in promoting the welfare of captive animals. However, a topic of debate is whether an animal's preference for an enrichment strategy is any indicator of its efficacy. In addition, relatively few studies have evaluated environmental enrichment strategies for non-mammalian species. In the present study, we compared the results of an observational evaluation of enrichment efficacy with the results of a paired-stimulus preference assessment for three Galapagos tortoises. In the observational study, object enrichment (boomer balls and a free-flowing sprinkler) and keeper interactions (shell scrubbing and neck rubbing) were evaluated systematically for their effects on locomotion, species-typical behavior, aggressive and non-aggressive conspecific interactions, and enclosure. Preference assessments were subsequently conducted in which subjects could choose the enrichment strategy to be implemented. All subjects preferred keeper interactions consistently over object enrichment. Our results suggest that enrichment preference was a variable predictor of efficacy across enrichment species-typical behavior, activity levels, enclosure use, and aggressive and non-aggressive conspecific interactions strategies. Preference predicted efficacy for promoting species-typical behavior (1/3 subjects), activity levels (2/3 subjects), and enclosure use (2/3 subjects), but not conspecific interactions (0/3 subjects). The results suggest that preference may be an efficient predictor of enrichment efficacy when daily observational evaluations are not practical; however, the predictive utility of preference assessments may depend on the behavioral goal of the enrichment strategy. We discuss the need for future research examining the relationship between preference and enrichment efficacy-as well as other potential indicators of enrichment effectiveness-in captive animals. PMID:25065472

  11. High dietary intake of prebiotic inulin-type fructans in the prehistoric Chihuahuan Desert.

    PubMed

    Leach, Jeff D; Sobolik, Kristin D

    2010-06-01

    Archaeological evidence from dry cave deposits in the northern Chihuahuan Desert reveal intensive utilisation of desert plants that store prebiotic inulin-type fructans as the primary carbohydrate. In this semi-arid region limited rainfall and poor soil conditions prevented the adoption of agriculture and thus provides a unique glimpse into a pure hunter-forager economy spanning over 10 000 years. Ancient cooking features, stable carbon isotope analysis of human skeletons, and well-preserved coprolites and macrobotanical remains reveal a plant-based diet that included a dietary intake of about 135 g prebiotic inulin-type fructans per d by the average adult male hunter-forager. These data reveal that man is well adapted to daily intakes of prebiotics well above those currently consumed in the modern diet. PMID:20416127

  12. A comparison of artificial incubation and natural incubation hatching success of gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) eggs in southern Mississippi

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Noel, Krista M.; Qualls, Carl P.; Ennen, Joshua R.

    2012-01-01

    Recent studies have found that Gopher Tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus, populations in southern Mississippi exhibit low recruitment, due in part to very low hatching success of their eggs. We sought to determine if the cause(s) of this low hatching success was related to egg quality (intrinsic factors), unsuitability of the nest environment (extrinsic factors), or a combination of the two. In 2003, hatching success was monitored simultaneously for eggs from the same clutches that were incubated in the laboratory and left to incubate in nests. A subset of randomly chosen eggs from each clutch was incubated in the laboratory under physical conditions that were known to be conducive to successful hatching to estimate the proportion of eggs that were capable of hatching in a controlled setting. Hatching success in the laboratory was compared with that of eggs incubated in natural nests to estimate the proportion of eggs that failed to hatch presumably from extrinsic factors. Laboratory hatching success was 58.8%, suggesting that roughly 40% of the eggs were intrinsically incapable of hatching even when incubated under controlled conditions. Hatching success in natural nests, 16.7%, was significantly lower than hatching success in the laboratory, suggesting that approximately 42.1% of eggs were capable of hatching but failed to hatch due to some extrinsic aspect(s) of the nest environment. Thus, the low hatching success of Gopher Tortoise eggs in southern Mississippi appears to be attributable to a combination of intrinsic (egg quality) and extrinsic (nest environment) factors.

  13. The tortoise or the hare? Impacts of within-host dynamics on transmission success of arthropod-borne viruses.

    PubMed

    Althouse, Benjamin M; Hanley, Kathryn A

    2015-08-19

    Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) are maintained in a cycle of alternating transmission between vertebrate hosts and arthropod vectors. Arboviruses possess RNA genomes capable of rapid diversification and adaptation, and the between-host trade-offs inherent to host alternation impose well-documented constraints on arbovirus evolution. Here, we investigate the less well-studied within-host trade-offs that shape arbovirus replication dynamics and transmission. Arboviruses generally establish lifelong infection in vectors but transient infection of variable magnitude (i.e. peak virus concentration) and duration in vertebrate hosts. In the majority of experimental infections of vertebrate hosts, both the magnitude and duration of arbovirus replication depended upon the dose of virus administered, with increasing dose resulting in greater magnitude but shorter duration of viraemia. This pattern suggests that the vertebrate immune response imposes a trade-off between the height and breadth of the virus replication curve. To investigate the impact of this trade-off on transmission, we used a simple modelling approach to contrast the effect of 'tortoise' (low magnitude, long duration viraemia) and 'hare' (high magnitude, short duration viraemia) arbovirus replication strategies on transmission. This model revealed that, counter to previous theory, arboviruses that adopt a tortoise strategy have higher rates of persistence in both host and vector populations. PMID:26150665

  14. Fetal programming, epigenetics, and adult onset disease.

    PubMed

    Lane, Robert H

    2014-12-01

    How early life events program adult disease is undergoing a transition from the broad field of maternal malnutrition to the current relevant issues of food deserts and prematurity. Although many adult diseases and morbidities associate with various early life events and programming, the morbidities of insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and obesity seem to be common end points of many early life events despite potential confounders. PMID:25459776

  15. The Rearing and Biology of the Desert Beetle, Microdera punctipennis, Under Laboratory Conditions

    PubMed Central

    Wang, Yan; Liu, Xiaoning; Zhao, Jia; Rexili, Kelaimu; Ma, Ji

    2011-01-01

    Microdera punctipennis Kasz (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) is a unique species that lives in the desert region of Central Asia and has adopted a nocturnal habit to survive the desert environment. Female adults are larger in size than male adults. The female/male ratio was 1.04:1. A rearing method using reused plastic bottles was used. The rearing conditions were 30 ± 0.5°C, 30 ± 6% relative humidity (RH), and 16:8 L:D photoperiod. Cabbage was provided as food. Cannibalism was avoided by rearing one larva in a bottle. A complete life cycle was obtained under these conditions. The viability of eggs, larvae, prepupae, pupae, and teneral adults was 93.54%, 83.71%, 84.76%, 87.64%, and 93.59%, respectively. Embryogenesis took 7.35 days on average. The larval duration in each instar was 2.25 days. The mean duration of the larvae, prepupae, pupae, and teneral adult was 49.27, 7.05, 9.95, and 10.12 days, respectively. The coloration of each developmental stage gradually changed from creamy white to light brownish or black. Females commenced oviposition when their body color became black. On average, each female produced 568 eggs. PMID:21529250

  16. Psoriatic arthritis in a fifth-century Judean Desert monastery.

    PubMed

    Zias, J; Mitchell, P

    1996-12-01

    Psoriatic arthritis is a greatly underreported seronegative erosive arthropathy, due to the ambiguous lesions it leaves on bone in all but the most severe cases. For a confident diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis to be made, sacroiliac and intervertebral joint fusion must be present together with erosive lesions of the peripheral skeleton including most especially the terminal interphalangeal joints. In modern times it is only a small percentage of cases who experience such debilitating disease, which may explain who so few cases of psoriatic arthritis can confidently be identified from past populations. This report describes this pathological condition as observed in the comingled skeletal remains of nine males and one female from the tomb of Paulus in the Byzantine Monastery of Martyrius, in the Judean Desert. Visual study was complemented using radiographic techniques along with scanning electron microscopy. Two adult males show characteristic lesions of psoriatic arthritis, demonstrating the form known as arthritis mutilans. A third individual shows less widespread erosive lesions which may signify a pauciarticular example of psoriatic arthritis, as is true of most cases in modern times, or the remains may represent Reiter's disease. During the Byzantine period the earlier practise of expelling those with disfiguring diseases (biblical leprosy) evolved into a philanthropic, caring philosophy where the sick were housed and fed out of charity, often within monasteries. The presence of these cases of psoriatic arthritis within such a Judean Desert monastery confirms earlier suggestions that psoriasis was one of the diseases included by those in the ancient eastern Mediterranean under the umbrella term of biblical leprosy. PMID:9016363

  17. Development and use of an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for detection of iridovirus exposure in gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) and eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina).

    PubMed

    Johnson, April J; Wendland, Lori; Norton, Terry M; Belzer, Bill; Jacobson, Elliott R

    2010-05-19

    Iridoviruses, pathogens typically associated with fish and amphibians, have recently been shown to cause acute respiratory disease in chelonians including box turtles, red-eared sliders, gopher tortoises, and Burmese star tortoises. Case reports of natural infections in several chelonian species in the United States have been reported, however the prevalence remains unknown in susceptible populations of free-ranging chelonians. To determine the prevalence of iridovirus exposure in free-ranging gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in the southeast United States, an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed and used to evaluate plasma samples from wild gopher tortoises (G. polyphemus) from: Alabama (n=9); Florida (n=658); Georgia (n=225); Louisiana (n=12); Mississippi (n=28); and unknown locations (68) collected between 2001 and 2006. Eight (1.2%) seropositive tortoises were identified from Florida and seven (3.1%) from Georgia for an overall prevalence of 1.5%. Additionally, a population of eastern box turtles was sampled from a private nature sanctuary in Pennsylvania that experienced an outbreak of iridovirus the previous year, which killed 16 turtles. Only 1 turtle out of 55 survivors tested positive (1.8%). Results suggest a low exposure rate in chelonians to this pathogen; however, it is suspected that this is an underestimate of the true prevalence. Since experimental transmission studies and past outbreaks have shown a high rate of mortality in infected turtles, turtles may die before they develop an antibody response. Further, the duration of the antibody response is unknown and may also cause an underestimate of the true prevalence. PMID:19931321

  18. Seedling establishment in a masting desert shrub parallels the pattern for forest trees

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meyer, Susan E.; Pendleton, Burton K.

    2015-05-01

    The masting phenomenon along with its accompanying suite of seedling adaptive traits has been well studied in forest trees but has rarely been examined in desert shrubs. Blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) is a regionally dominant North American desert shrub whose seeds are produced in mast events and scatter-hoarded by rodents. We followed the fate of seedlings in intact stands vs. small-scale disturbances at four contrasting sites for nine growing seasons following emergence after a mast year. The primary cause of first-year mortality was post-emergence cache excavation and seedling predation, with contrasting impacts at sites with different heteromyid rodent seed predators. Long-term establishment patterns were strongly affected by rodent activity in the weeks following emergence. Survivorship curves generally showed decreased mortality risk with age but differed among sites even after the first year. There were no detectable effects of inter-annual precipitation variability or site climatic differences on survival. Intraspecific competition from conspecific adults had strong impacts on survival and growth, both of which were higher on small-scale disturbances, but similar in openings and under shrub crowns in intact stands. This suggests that adult plants preempted soil resources in the interspaces. Aside from effects on seedling predation, there was little evidence for facilitation or interference beneath adult plant crowns. Plants in intact stands were still small and clearly juvenile after nine years, showing that blackbrush forms cohorts of suppressed plants similar to the seedling banks of closed forests. Seedling banks function in the absence of a persistent seed bank in replacement after adult plant death (gap formation), which is temporally uncoupled from masting and associated recruitment events. This study demonstrates that the seedling establishment syndrome associated with masting has evolved in desert shrublands as well as in forests.

  19. Geometeorological data collected by the USGS Desert Winds Project at Desert Wells, Sonoran Desert, central-west Arizona, 1981 - 1996

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Helm, Paula J.; Breed, Carol S.; Tigges, Richard; Creighton, Shawn

    1998-01-01

    The data in this report were obtained by instruments deployed on a GOES-satellite data collection station operated by the U.S. Geological Survey Desert Winds Project at Desert Wells (latitude 33° 42' 08" N, longitude 113° 48' 40" W), La Paz County, west-central Arizona. The elevation is 344 m (1,130 ft). From January 9, 1981 through May 31, 1995 the station recorded eight parameters: wind direction, wind speed, peak gust, air temperature, precipitation, humidity, barometric pressure, and soil temperature. On June 1, 1995, the station was upgraded by adding a SENSIT sand-flux sensor, which records grain impacts concurrently with wind speed and wind direction measurements. Included with the data is descriptive text on the geology, soils, climate, vegetation, and land use at the site, as well as text on data format, date retrieval software and instructions, and metadata

  20. Snow, the Great River, and the Desert

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rango, A.

    2005-12-01

    While many major rivers around the world originate from alpine snowpacks in mountain regions, some experience the extreme contrast of flowing through harsh desert environments downriver. One such stream is the Rio Grande which rises in the San Juan and the Sangre de Christo mountains of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Eventually, the snow fed Rio Grande flows through North America's largest desert, the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, and simultaneously becomes part of the border between the United States and Mexico. As is often true, urban areas develop along the river corridors rather than in more inaccessible mountain regions. This demographic preference tends to isolate the vast majority of population in the Rio Grande, who are dependent on water for their livelihoods, from the mountain snowpacks where the flow is generated. Ironically then, snow is seldom viewed as the source of the much needed water flowing through the desert by the majority of the basin's population. In arid regions of the western U.S., water demand far exceeds the water supply, and water use is apportioned under the doctrine of prior appropriation with the oldest right getting the first use of water. The increasing population in urban areas does not usually have a right to use the water flowing through the desert unless water rights have been purchased by municipalities from the major category of water user in these basins, namely, irrigated agriculture. In the entire Rio Grande basin, irrigation makes up 80% of the consumptive use of water. Additionally, basin compacts and international treaties apportion water between states and countries. Because these formal agreements were based on above average runoff years, there is little flexibility in changing the use of water, particularly in dry to normal runoff years. Most of the older water rights in the Rio Grande, especially the upper basin, are supplied by snowmelt. This leaves the lower basin to depend upon

  1. 43 CFR 2524.6 - Desert-land entryman may proceed independently of Government irrigation.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Desert-land entryman may proceed... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.6 Desert-land... that a desert-land entryman who owns a water right and reclaims the land embraced in his entry...

  2. 43 CFR 2524.6 - Desert-land entryman may proceed independently of Government irrigation.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Desert-land entryman may proceed... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.6 Desert-land... that a desert-land entryman who owns a water right and reclaims the land embraced in his entry...

  3. 43 CFR 2524.6 - Desert-land entryman may proceed independently of Government irrigation.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Desert-land entryman may proceed... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.6 Desert-land... that a desert-land entryman who owns a water right and reclaims the land embraced in his entry...

  4. 43 CFR 2524.6 - Desert-land entryman may proceed independently of Government irrigation.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Desert-land entryman may proceed... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.6 Desert-land... that a desert-land entryman who owns a water right and reclaims the land embraced in his entry...

  5. Organic chemicals from the Chihuahuan desert

    SciTech Connect

    Campos-Lopez, E.; Roman-Alemany, A.

    1980-03-01

    A consideration of social, economic, political, and technological factors in the search for new renewable sources of raw materials suggests the exploitation and development of the resources of marginal land regions. Desert regions on the North American continent, which cannot be used for food production, nonetheless, grow a variety of indigenous floral species which offer, in their chemical composition, possibilities for agroindustrial development. Prospects for utilization of the resources of the Chihuahuan Desert for the production of organic raw materials are presented. Research and development projects presently underway in Mexico for the commercialization of plants such as Guayule (Parthenium argentatum), Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica), and Palma (Yucca filiera), among others, are documented. Raw materials obtained from such plants are characterized, with emphasis on the identification of components of industrial interest. Current bench and pilot plant activities, as well as process and product development requirements, are detailed.

  6. High performance robotic traverse of desert terrain.

    SciTech Connect

    Whittaker, William

    2004-09-01

    This report presents tentative innovations to enable unmanned vehicle guidance for a class of off-road traverse at sustained speeds greater than 30 miles per hour. Analyses and field trials suggest that even greater navigation speeds might be achieved. The performance calls for innovation in mapping, perception, planning and inertial-referenced stabilization of components, hosted aboard capable locomotion. The innovations are motivated by the challenge of autonomous ground vehicle traverse of 250 miles of desert terrain in less than 10 hours, averaging 30 miles per hour. GPS coverage is assumed to be available with localized blackouts. Terrain and vegetation are assumed to be akin to that of the Mojave Desert. This terrain is interlaced with networks of unimproved roads and trails, which are a key to achieving the high performance mapping, planning and navigation that is presented here.

  7. Water capture by a desert beetle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Parker, Andrew R.; Lawrence, Chris R.

    2001-11-01

    Some beetles in the Namib Desert collect drinking water from fog-laden wind on their backs. We show here that these large droplets form by virtue of the insect's bumpy surface, which consists of alternating hydrophobic, wax-coated and hydrophilic, non-waxy regions. The design of this fog-collecting structure can be reproduced cheaply on a commercial scale and may find application in water-trapping tent and building coverings, for example, or in water condensers and engines.

  8. Consumption of atmospheric methane by desert soils

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Striegl, R.G.; McConnaughey, T.A.; Thorstenson, D.C.; Weeks, E.P.; Woodward, J.C.

    1992-01-01

    ATMOSPHERIC concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas, are increasing at a rate of about 1% yr-1 (refs 1-4). Oxidation by methylotrophic bacteria in soil is the largest terrestrial sink for atmospheric CH4, and is estimated to consume about 30?? 1012 g CH4 yr-1 (refs 4-6). Spatial and temporal variability in the rate of soil CH4 consumption are incompletely understood6-19, as are the apparent inhibitory12,13,18 or enhancing20 effects of changes in land use. Dry deserts, which constitute 20% of total land surface, are not currently included in global soil uptake estimates. Here we describe measurements of the rate of uptake of atmospheric CH4 by undisturbed desert soils. We observed rates as great as 4.38 mg CH4 m-2 day-1; 50% of the measured rates were between 0.24 and 0.92 mg CH4 m2 d-1. Uptake of CH4 by desert soil is enhanced by rainfall after an initial soil-drainage period - opposite to the response of temperate forest soils12. Methane is consumed to a depth of about 2 m, allowing for deep removal of atmospheric CH4 if near-surface conditions are unfavourable for consumption. On the basis of an annual average CH4 consumption rate of 0.66 mg CH4 m-2 d-1, we estimate that the global CH4 sink term needs to be increased by about 7 ?? 1012 g yr-1 to account for the contribution of desert soils.

  9. Petroleum potential of Western Desert of Egypt

    SciTech Connect

    Wood, D.S.

    1984-09-01

    The Western Desert of Egypt, despite many discouragements, has major potential as a petroleum province. Approximately 150 exploratory wells have discovered nine commercial oil and gas fields, with flows of oil or gas recorded from an additional 21 wells. All discoveries have been in marine inner shelf sandstones and carbonates that range from Aptian to Turonian in age. Potential reservoir rocks are known in Paleozoic to Tertiary sedimentary rocks. Mature source rocks have been recognized in the Devonian and in Jurassic to Upper Cretaceous strata. Despite these favorable factors, in-place reserves of only 800 million bbl of oil and condensate, and up to 1185 bcf of natural gas have been found. Almost all exploration has been limited to the drilling of relatively small onshore structures and no giant fields have been found. New investigations utilizing a broad regional tectonic framework provide a means both of recognizing the more prospective provinces of the Western Desert and for understanding the structural evolution in terms of the timing of growth folding and growth faulting. Particular attention should be given to testing the lower part of the Cretaceous and Jurassic. The Paleozoic section also warrants further attention as demonstrated by a review of drilling results and by indications from gravity data. The new investigations indicate a considerable potential within the Western Desert for discovery of small to moderate-size accumulations of oil and gas. More exploration should test these features, which although high-risk leads, may contain giant fields.

  10. Wind modeling of Chihuahuan Desert dust outbreaks

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rivera Rivera, Nancy I.; Gill, Thomas E.; Gebhart, Kristi A.; Hand, Jennifer L.; Bleiweiss, Max P.; Fitzgerald, Rosa M.

    The Chihuahuan Desert region of North America is a significant source of mineral aerosols in the Western Hemisphere, and Chihuahuan Desert dust storms frequently impact the Paso del Norte (El Paso, USA/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) metropolitan area. A statistical analysis of HYSPLIT back trajectory residence times evaluated airflow into El Paso on all days and on days with synoptic (non-convective) dust events in 2001-2005. The incremental probability—a measure of the areas most likely to have been traversed by air masses arriving at El Paso during dusty days—was only strongly positively associated with the region west-southwest of the city, a zone of known dust source areas. Focused case studies were made of major dust events on 15 April and 15 December 2003. Trajectories approached the surface and MM5 (NCAR/Penn State Mesoscale Model) wind speeds increased at locations consistent with dust sources observed in satellite imagery on those dates. Back trajectory and model analyses suggested that surface cyclones adjacent to the Chihuahuan Desert were associated with the extreme dust events, consistent with previous studies of dust storms in the Southern High Plains to the northeast. The recognition of these meteorological patterns serves as a forecast aid for prediction of dust events likely to impact the Paso del Norte.

  11. The Palm Desert renewable [hydrogen] transportation system

    SciTech Connect

    Chamberlin, C.E.; Lehman, P.

    1998-08-01

    This paper describes the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) progress on the Palm Desert Renewable Hydrogen Transportation System Project for the period June 1997 through May 1998. The project began in March 1996. The goal of the Palm Desert Project is to develop a clean and sustainable transportation system for a community. The project demonstrates the practical utility of hydrogen as a transportation fuel and the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell as a vehicle power system. The project includes designing and building 4 fuel cell powered vehicles, a solar hydrogen generating and refueling station, and a fuel cell vehicle diagnostic center. Over this last year, SERC has built a fuel cell powered neighborhood electric vehicle and delivered it to the City of Palm Desert. The design of the hydrogen refueling station is near completion and it is anticipated that construction will be complete in the fall of 1998. The vehicles are currently being refueled at a temporary refueling station. The diagnostic center is being designed and maintenance procedures as well as computer diagnostic programs for the fuel cell vehicles are being developed. City employees are driving the vehicles daily and monitoring data are being collected. The drivers are pleased with the performance of the vehicles.

  12. An experimental analysis of granivory in desert ecosystems

    SciTech Connect

    Davidson, D.W.

    1988-01-01

    In our studies of desert granivore ecology, we have outlined the network of interaction pathways linking granivore and resource species in a Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem. Here, a major fraction of the primary productivity takes the form of the seeds of annual plants. These seeds support two major resident taxa of desert granivores, ants and rodents. Population responses to removal of various taxa of granivores or seasonal classes of resource species are described.

  13. Aerosol direct radiative forcing in desert and semi-desert regions of northwestern China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xin, Jinyuan; Gong, Chongshui; Wang, Shigong; Wang, Yuesi

    2016-05-01

    The optical properties of dust aerosols were measured using narrow-band data from a portable sun photometer at four desert and semi-desert stations in northwestern China from 2004 to 2007. Ground-based and satellite observations indicated absorbing dust aerosol loading over the region surrounded by eight large-scale deserts. Radiation forcing was identified by using the Santa Barbara DISORT Atmospheric Radiative Transfer (SBDART) model. The ranges of annual mean aerosol optical depth (AOD), Angström exponents, and single-scattering albedo (SSA) were from 0.25 to 0.35, from - 0.73 to 1.18, and from 0.77 to 0.86, respectively. The ranges of annual mean aerosol direct radiative forcing values at the top of the atmosphere (TOA), mid-atmosphere, and on the surface were from 3.9 to 12.0, from 50.0 to 53.1, and from - 39.1 to - 48.1 W/m2, respectively. The aerosols' optical properties and radiative characteristics showed strong seasonal variations in both the desert and semi-desert regions. Strong winds and relatively low humidity will lead dust aerosols in the atmosphere to an increase, which played greatly affected these optical properties during spring and winter in northwestern China. Based on long-term observations and retrieved data, aerosol direct radiative forcing was confirmed to heat the atmosphere (50-53 W/m2) and cool the surface (- 39 to - 48 W/m2) above the analyzed desert. Radiative forcing in the atmosphere in spring and winter was 18 to 21 W/m2 higher than other two seasons. Based on the dust sources around the sites, the greater the AOD, the more negative the forcing. The annual averaged heating rates for aerosols close to the ground (1 km) were approximately 0.80-0.85 K/day.

  14. The provenance of Taklamakan desert sand

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rittner, Martin; Vermeesch, Pieter; Carter, Andrew; Bird, Anna; Stevens, Thomas; Garzanti, Eduardo; Andò, Sergio; Vezzoli, Giovanni; Dutt, Ripul; Xu, Zhiwei; Lu, Huayu

    2016-03-01

    Sand migration in the vast Taklamakan desert within the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region, PR China) is governed by two competing transport agents: wind and water, which work in diametrically opposed directions. Net aeolian transport is from northeast to south, while fluvial transport occurs from the south to the north and then west to east at the northern rim, due to a gradual northward slope of the underlying topography. We here present the first comprehensive provenance study of Taklamakan desert sand with the aim to characterise the interplay of these two transport mechanisms and their roles in the formation of the sand sea, and to consider the potential of the Tarim Basin as a contributing source to the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP). Our dataset comprises 39 aeolian and fluvial samples, which were characterised by detrital-zircon U-Pb geochronology, heavy-mineral, and bulk-petrography analyses. Although the inter-sample differences of all three datasets are subtle, a multivariate statistical analysis using multidimensional scaling (MDS) clearly shows that Tarim desert sand is most similar in composition to rivers draining the Kunlun Shan (south) and the Pamirs (west), and is distinctly different from sediment sources in the Tian Shan (north). A small set of samples from the Junggar Basin (north of the Tian Shan) yields different detrital compositions and age spectra than anywhere in the Tarim Basin, indicating that aeolian sediment exchange between the two basins is minimal. Although river transport dominates delivery of sand into the Tarim Basin, wind remobilises and reworks the sediment in the central sand sea. Characteristic signatures of main rivers can be traced from entrance into the basin to the terminus of the Tarim River, and those crossing the desert from the south to north can seasonally bypass sediment through the sand sea. Smaller ephemeral rivers from the Kunlun Shan end in the desert and discharge their sediment there. Both river run

  15. The desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, detoxifies the glucosinolates of Schouwia purpurea by desulfation.

    PubMed

    Falk, Kimberly L; Gershenzon, Jonathan

    2007-08-01

    Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) occasionally feed on Schouwia purpurea, a plant that contains tenfold higher levels of glucosinolates than most other Brassicaceae. Whereas this unusually high level of glucosinolates is expected to be toxic and/or deterrent to most insects, locusts feed on the plant with no apparent ill effects. In this paper, we demonstrate that the desert locust, like larvae of the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella), possesses a glucosinolate sulfatase in the gut that hydrolyzes glucosinolates to their corresponding desulfonated forms. These are no longer susceptible to cleavage by myrosinase, thus eliminating the formation of toxic glucosinolate hydrolysis products. Sulfatase is found throughout the desert locust gut and can catalyze the hydrolysis of all of the glucosinolates present in S. purpurea. The enzyme was detected in all larval stages of locusts as well as in both male and female adults feeding on this plant species. Glucosinolate sulfatase activity is induced tenfold when locusts are fed S. purpurea after being maintained on a glucosinolate-free diet, and activity declines when glucosinolates are removed from the locust diet. A detoxification system that is sensitive to the dietary levels of a plant toxin may minimize the physiological costs of toxin processing, especially for a generalist insect herbivore that encounters large variations in plant defense metabolites while feeding on different species. PMID:17619221

  16. Gene expression and metabolite profiling of Populus euphratica growing in the Negev desert

    PubMed Central

    Brosché, Mikael; Vinocur, Basia; Alatalo, Edward R; Lamminmäki, Airi; Teichmann, Thomas; Ottow, Eric A; Djilianov, Dimitar; Afif, Dany; Bogeat-Triboulot, Marie-Béatrice; Altman, Arie; Polle, Andrea; Dreyer, Erwin; Rudd, Stephen; Paulin, Lars; Auvinen, Petri; Kangasjärvi, Jaakko

    2005-01-01

    Background Plants growing in their natural habitat represent a valuable resource for elucidating mechanisms of acclimation to environmental constraints. Populus euphratica is a salt-tolerant tree species growing in saline semi-arid areas. To identify genes involved in abiotic stress responses under natural conditions we constructed several normalized and subtracted cDNA libraries from control, stress-exposed and desert-grown P. euphratica trees. In addition, we identified several metabolites in desert-grown P. euphratica trees. Results About 14,000 expressed sequence tag (EST) sequences were obtained with a good representation of genes putatively involved in resistance and tolerance to salt and other abiotic stresses. A P. euphratica DNA microarray with a uni-gene set of ESTs representing approximately 6,340 different genes was constructed. The microarray was used to study gene expression in adult P. euphratica trees growing in the desert canyon of Ein Avdat in Israel. In parallel, 22 selected metabolites were profiled in the same trees. Conclusion Of the obtained ESTs, 98% were found in the sequenced P. trichocarpa genome and 74% in other Populus EST collections. This implies that the P. euphratica genome does not contain different genes per se, but that regulation of gene expression might be different and that P. euphratica expresses a different set of genes that contribute to adaptation to saline growth conditions. Also, all of the five measured amino acids show increased levels in trees growing in the more saline soil. PMID:16356264

  17. America's Atomic Army: The Historical Archaeology of Camp Desert Rock

    SciTech Connect

    Susan R. Edwards

    2007-11-02

    Established in 1951, Camp Desert Rock served as the training ground for America's 'Atomic Army'. For the next six years, U.S. ground troops traveled to the Nevada desert to participate in military maneuvers during atmospheric atomic weapons testing. Nearly 60,000 soldiers received physical and psychological training in atomic warfare. Abandoned when atmospheric testing ended, Camp Desert Rock was dismantled and its buildings moved to other locations. Today, the camp appears as a sterile expanse of desert marked by rock-lined tent platforms, concrete foundations, and trash scatters. Although visually unimposing, the site is rich with the history of America's nuclear testing program.

  18. Nationwide desert highway assessment: a case study in China.

    PubMed

    Mao, Xuesong; Wang, Fuchun; Wang, Binggang

    2011-07-01

    The natural environment affects the construction of desert highways. Conversely, highway construction affects the natural environment and puts the ecological environment at a disadvantage. To satisfy the variety and hierarchy of desert highway construction and discover the spatio-temporal distribution of the natural environment and its effect on highway construction engineering, an assessment of the natural regional divisions of desert highways in China is carried out for the first time. Based on the general principles and method for the natural region division, the principles, method and index system for desert highway assessment is put forward by combining the desert highway construction features and the azonal differentiation law. The index system combines the dominant indicator and four auxiliary indicators. The dominant indicator is defined by the desert's comprehensive state index and the auxiliary indicators include the sand dune height, the blown sand strength, the vegetation coverage ratio and the annual average temperature difference. First the region is divided according to the dominant indicator. Then the region boundaries are amended according to the four auxiliary indicators. Finally the natural region division map for desert highway assessment is presented. The Chinese desert highways can be divided into three sections: the east medium effect region, the middle medium-severe effect region, and the west slight-medium effect region. The natural region division map effectively paves the way for the route planning, design, construction, maintenance and ongoing management of desert highways, and further helps environmental protection. PMID:21845155

  19. Origin of desert loess from some experimental observations

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Whalley, W. B.; Smith, B. J.; Marshall, J. R.

    1982-01-01

    The aeolian attrition of angular quartz grains previously produced by weathering in deserts has been simulated, yielding abrasion products which show that both coarse and fine silt sizes are produced by this process. These results suggest that desert aeolian processes can produce loess, and it is speculated that while much of this material from many deserts has been deposited in the sea, the Chinese loess could have been produced in the Gobi desert. The finest of the particles produced by such attrition may serve as a source of silica for silcrete formation.

  20. Role of pioneer species in revegetation of disturbed desert areas

    SciTech Connect

    Wallace, A.; Romney, E.M.

    1980-01-01

    The northern Mojave Desert, as are many deserts, is characterized in part by small fertile islands in which exist individual shrub clumps each containing two or more plants. These fertile sites promote characteristic organization of both plant and animal activity in the desert. Destruction of these fertile sites make revegetation extremely difficult because most seedlings germinate in these sites. Some pioneer species do, however, germinate and survive in the bare areas between the fertile sites. Four such species in the northern Mojave Desert are Acamptopappus shockleyi Gray, Lepidium fremontii Wats., Sphaeralcea ambigua Gray, and Atriplex confertifolia (Torr. and Frem.) Wats. These four-species may have a role in starting new fertile islands.

  1. Atmospheric transport of mold spores in clouds of desert dust

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Shinn, E.A.; Griffin, Dale W.; Seba, D.B.

    2003-01-01

    Fungal spores can be transported globally in clouds of desert dust. Many species of fungi (commonly known as molds) and bacteria--including some that are human pathogens--have characteristics suited to long-range atmospheric transport. Dust from the African desert can affect air quality in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Asian desert dust can affect air quality in Asia, the Arctic, North America, and Europe. Atmospheric exposure to mold-carrying desert dust may affect human health directly through allergic induction of respiratory stress. In addition, mold spores within these dust clouds may seed downwind ecosystems in both outdoor and indoor environments.

  2. The Use of Water During the Crew 144, Mars Desert Research Station, Utah Desert

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    De Morais Mendonca Teles, Antonio

    2016-07-01

    Well. from November 29th to December 14th, 2014, the author conducted astrobiological and geological surveys, as analog astronaut member of the international Crew 144, at the site of the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station, located at a remote location in the Utah desert, United States. The use of water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, etc., in the crew was a major issue for consideration for a human expedition to the planet Mars in the future. The author would like to tell about the factors of the rationalized use of water.

  3. Naturally rare versus newly rare: demographic inferences on two timescales inform conservation of Galápagos giant tortoises.

    PubMed

    Garrick, Ryan C; Kajdacsi, Brittney; Russello, Michael A; Benavides, Edgar; Hyseni, Chaz; Gibbs, James P; Tapia, Washington; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2015-02-01

    Long-term population history can influence the genetic effects of recent bottlenecks. Therefore, for threatened or endangered species, an understanding of the past is relevant when formulating conservation strategies. Levels of variation at neutral markers have been useful for estimating local effective population sizes (N e ) and inferring whether population sizes increased or decreased over time. Furthermore, analyses of genotypic, allelic frequency, and phylogenetic information can potentially be used to separate historical from recent demographic changes. For 15 populations of Galápagos giant tortoises (Chelonoidis sp.), we used 12 microsatellite loci and DNA sequences from the mitochondrial control region and a nuclear intron, to reconstruct demographic history on shallow (past ∽100 generations, ∽2500 years) and deep (pre-Holocene, >10 thousand years ago) timescales. At the deep timescale, three populations showed strong signals of growth, but with different magnitudes and timing, indicating different underlying causes. Furthermore, estimated historical N e of populations across the archipelago showed no correlation with island age or size, underscoring the complexity of predicting demographic history a priori. At the shallow timescale, all populations carried some signature of a genetic bottleneck, and for 12 populations, point estimates of contemporary N e were very small (i.e., < 50). On the basis of the comparison of these genetic estimates with published census size data, N e generally represented ∽0.16 of the census size. However, the variance in this ratio across populations was considerable. Overall, our data suggest that idiosyncratic and geographically localized forces shaped the demographic history of tortoise populations. Furthermore, from a conservation perspective, the separation of demographic events occurring on shallow versus deep timescales permits the identification of naturally rare versus newly rare populations; this distinction

  4. Naturally rare versus newly rare: demographic inferences on two timescales inform conservation of Galápagos giant tortoises

    PubMed Central

    Garrick, Ryan C; Kajdacsi, Brittney; Russello, Michael A; Benavides, Edgar; Hyseni, Chaz; Gibbs, James P; Tapia, Washington; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2015-01-01

    Long-term population history can influence the genetic effects of recent bottlenecks. Therefore, for threatened or endangered species, an understanding of the past is relevant when formulating conservation strategies. Levels of variation at neutral markers have been useful for estimating local effective population sizes (Ne) and inferring whether population sizes increased or decreased over time. Furthermore, analyses of genotypic, allelic frequency, and phylogenetic information can potentially be used to separate historical from recent demographic changes. For 15 populations of Galápagos giant tortoises (Chelonoidis sp.), we used 12 microsatellite loci and DNA sequences from the mitochondrial control region and a nuclear intron, to reconstruct demographic history on shallow (past ∽100 generations, ∽2500 years) and deep (pre-Holocene, >10 thousand years ago) timescales. At the deep timescale, three populations showed strong signals of growth, but with different magnitudes and timing, indicating different underlying causes. Furthermore, estimated historical Ne of populations across the archipelago showed no correlation with island age or size, underscoring the complexity of predicting demographic history a priori. At the shallow timescale, all populations carried some signature of a genetic bottleneck, and for 12 populations, point estimates of contemporary Ne were very small (i.e., < 50). On the basis of the comparison of these genetic estimates with published census size data, Ne generally represented ∽0.16 of the census size. However, the variance in this ratio across populations was considerable. Overall, our data suggest that idiosyncratic and geographically localized forces shaped the demographic history of tortoise populations. Furthermore, from a conservation perspective, the separation of demographic events occurring on shallow versus deep timescales permits the identification of naturally rare versus newly rare populations; this distinction should

  5. Ecological constraints on breeding system evolution: the influence of habitat on brood desertion in Kentish plover.

    PubMed

    Kosztolányi, András; Székely, Tamas; Cuthill, Innes C; Yilmaz, K Tuluhan; Berberoglu, Süha

    2006-01-01

    1. One of the fundamental insights of behavioural ecology is that resources influence breeding systems. For instance, when food resources are plenty, one parent is able to care for the young on its own, so that the other parent can desert and became polygamous. We investigated this hypothesis in the context of classical polyandry when females may have several mates within a single breeding season, and parental duties are carried out largely by the male. 2. We studied a precocial wader, the Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus, that exhibits variable brood care such that the chicks may be raised by both parents, only by the female or, more often, only by the male. The timing of female desertion varies: some females desert their brood at hatching of the eggs and lay a clutch for a new mate, whereas other females stay with their brood until the chicks fledge. Kentish plovers are excellent organisms with which to study breeding system evolution, as some of their close relatives exhibit classical polyandry (Eurasian dotterel Eudromias morinellus, mountain plover Charadrius montanus), whereas others are polygynous (northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus). 3. Kentish plovers raised their broods in two habitats in our study site in southern Turkey: saltmarsh and lakeshore. Food intake was higher on the lakeshore than in the saltmarsh as judged from feeding behaviour of chicks and adults. As the season proceeded and the saltmarsh dried out, the broods moved toward the lakeshore. 4. As the density of plovers increased on lakeshore, the parents spent more time defending their young, and female parents stayed with their brood longer on the lakeshore. 5. We conclude that the influence of food abundance on breeding systems is more complex than currently anticipated. Abundant food resources appear to have profound implications on spatial distribution of broods, and the social interactions between broods constrain female desertion and polyandry. PMID:16903063

  6. The densest meteorite collection area in hot deserts: The San Juan meteorite field (Atacama Desert, Chile)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gattacceca, Jérôme; Valenzuela, Millarca; Uehara, Minoru; Jull, A. J. Timothy; Giscard, Marlène; Rochette, Pierre; Braucher, Régis; Suavet, Clement; Gounelle, Matthieu; Morata, Diego; Munayco, Pablo; Bourot-Denise, Michèle; Bourles, Didier; Demory, François

    2011-09-01

    Abstract- We describe the geological, morphological, and climatic setting of the San Juan meteorite collection area in the Central Depression of the Atacama Desert (Chile). Our recovery activities yielded 48 meteorites corresponding to a minimum of 36 different falls within a 3.88 km2 area. The recovery density is in the range 9-12 falls km-2 depending on pairing, making it the densest among meteorite collection areas in hot deserts. This high meteorite concentration is linked to the long-standing hyperaridity of the area, the stability of the surface pebbles (> Ma), and very low erosion rates of surface pebbles (approximately 30 cm Ma-1 maximum). The San Juan meteorite population is characterized by old terrestrial ages that range from zero to beyond 40 ka, and limited weathering compared with other dense collection areas in hot desert. Chemical weathering in San Juan is slow and mainly controlled by the initial porosity of meteorites. As in the Antarctic and other hot deserts, there is an overabundance of H chondrites and a shortage of LL chondrites compared with the modern falls population, suggesting a recent (< few ka) change in the composition of the meteorite flux to Earth.

  7. Extensional collapse along the Sevier Desert reflection, northern Sevier Desert basin, western United States

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coogan, James C.; Decelles, Peter G.

    1996-10-01

    Newly released and previously published seismic reflection data from the northern Sevier Desert basin provide a complete seismic transect between the tilted western margin of the basin and the eastern breakaway zone. When tied to well and surface age data, the transect delineates a continuum of extensional fault and basin fill geometries that developed between late Oligocene and Pleistocene time across the basin. A minimum of 18 km of top-to-the-west normal displacement is estimated across the Sevier Desert from only the most conspicuous growth geometries and offsets across listric normal faults that sole downward into the Sevier Desert reflection (SDR). The SDR clearly marks a normal fault zone beneath the entire basin, where stratal truncations are imaged for 50% of the 39 km length of the reflection east of the Cricket Mountains block. Restoration of extensional displacement along this entire 39 km fault length is necessary to reconstruct the pre-Oligocene configuration and erosion level of Sevier thrust sheets across the Sevier Desert area. The SDR normal fault zone underlies the former topographic crest of the Sevier orogenic belt, where it accommodated extensional collapse after cessation of regional contractile tectonism.

  8. Complete Genome Sequence of the Type Strain Corynebacterium testudinoris DSM 44614, Recovered from Necrotic Lesions in the Mouth of a Tortoise.

    PubMed

    Rückert, Christian; Kriete, Martin; Jaenicke, Sebastian; Winkler, Anika; Tauch, Andreas

    2015-01-01

    The complete genome sequence of the type strain Corynebacterium testudinoris DSM 44614 from the mouth of a tortoise comprises 2,721,226 bp with a mean G+C content of 63.14%. The automatic annotation of the genome sequence revealed 4 rRNA operons, 51 tRNA genes, 7 other RNA genes, and 2,561 protein-coding regions. PMID:26227591

  9. Physiological Conjunction of Allelochemicals and Desert Plants

    PubMed Central

    Dudai, Nativ; Rachmilevitch, Shimon

    2013-01-01

    Plants exchange signals with other physical and biological entities in their habitat, a form of communication termed allelopathy. The underlying principles of allelopathy and secondary-metabolite production are still poorly understood, especially in desert plants. The coordination and role of secondary metabolites were examined as a cause of allelopathy in plants thriving under arid and semiarid soil conditions. Desert plant species, Origanum dayi, Artemisia sieberi and Artemisia judaica from two different sources (cultivar cuttings and wild seeds) were studied in their natural habitats. Growth rate, relative water content, osmotic potential, photochemical efficiency, volatile composition and vital factors of allelopathy were analyzed at regular intervals along four seasons with winter showing optimum soil water content and summer showing water deficit conditions. A comprehensive analysis of the volatile composition of the leaves, ambient air and soil in the biological niche of the plants under study was carried out to determine the effects of soil water conditions and sample plants on the surrounding flora. Significant morpho-physiological changes were observed across the seasons and along different soil water content. Metabolic analysis showed that water deficit was the key for driving selective metabolomic shifts. A. judaica showed the least metabolic shifts, while A. sieberi showed the highest shifts. All the species exhibited high allelopathic effects; A. judaica displayed relatively higher growth-inhibition effects, while O. dayi showed comparatively higher germination-inhibition effects in germination assays. The current study may help in understanding plant behavior, mechanisms underlying secondary-metabolite production in water deficit conditions and metabolite-physiological interrelationship with allelopathy in desert plants, and can help cull economic benefits from the produced volatiles. PMID:24339945

  10. The Palm Desert Renewable Hydrogen Transportation System

    SciTech Connect

    Lehman, P.

    1996-10-01

    The present paper describes, for purposes of the Department of Energy (DoE) Hydrogen Program Review, Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) progress on the Palm Desert Renewable Hydrogen Transportation System Project for the period January through June 1996. This period represents the first six months of the three year project. The estimated cost over three years is $3.9M, $1.859M of which is funded by the DoE ($600 k for fiscal year 1996). The goal of the Palm Desert Project is to develop a clean and sustainable transportation system for a community. The project will demonstrate the practical utility of hydrogen as a transportation fuel and proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells as vehicle power plants. This transportation system will be developed in the City of Palm Desert in southern California and will include a fleet of 8 fuel cell powered vehicles, solar and wind powered hydrogen generating facilities, a consumer-ready refueling station, and a service infrastructure. The system holds the promise of a clean environment and an energy supply that is predictable, domestic, safe, and abundant. During, the first part of 1996 SERC has nearly completed building a fuel cell powered personal utility vehicle, which features an upgraded safety and computer system; they have designed and built a test bench that is able to mimic golf cart loads and test fuel cell system auxiliary components; they have begun the design of the solar hydrogen generating station; they have worked with Sandia National Laboratory on an advanced metal hydride storage system; they have increased the power density of the SERC fuel cell by as much as 50%; and they have reached out to the rest of the world with a new fact sheet, world wide web pages, a press release, video footage for a television program. and instruction within the community.

  11. Physiological conjunction of allelochemicals and desert plants.

    PubMed

    Yosef Friedjung, Avital; Choudhary, Sikander Pal; Dudai, Nativ; Rachmilevitch, Shimon

    2013-01-01

    Plants exchange signals with other physical and biological entities in their habitat, a form of communication termed allelopathy. The underlying principles of allelopathy and secondary-metabolite production are still poorly understood, especially in desert plants. The coordination and role of secondary metabolites were examined as a cause of allelopathy in plants thriving under arid and semiarid soil conditions. Desert plant species, Origanum dayi, Artemisia sieberi and Artemisia judaica from two different sources (cultivar cuttings and wild seeds) were studied in their natural habitats. Growth rate, relative water content, osmotic potential, photochemical efficiency, volatile composition and vital factors of allelopathy were analyzed at regular intervals along four seasons with winter showing optimum soil water content and summer showing water deficit conditions. A comprehensive analysis of the volatile composition of the leaves, ambient air and soil in the biological niche of the plants under study was carried out to determine the effects of soil water conditions and sample plants on the surrounding flora. Significant morpho-physiological changes were observed across the seasons and along different soil water content. Metabolic analysis showed that water deficit was the key for driving selective metabolomic shifts. A. judaica showed the least metabolic shifts, while A. sieberi showed the highest shifts. All the species exhibited high allelopathic effects; A. judaica displayed relatively higher growth-inhibition effects, while O. dayi showed comparatively higher germination-inhibition effects in germination assays. The current study may help in understanding plant behavior, mechanisms underlying secondary-metabolite production in water deficit conditions and metabolite-physiological interrelationship with allelopathy in desert plants, and can help cull economic benefits from the produced volatiles. PMID:24339945

  12. Morphodynamics of Planetary Deserts: A Laboratory Approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Garcia, A.; Courrech Du Pont, S.; Rodriguez, S.

    2014-12-01

    Earth deserts show a rich variety of dune shapes from transverse to barchan, star and linear dunes depending on the history of wind regimes (strength and variability) and sand availability [1]. In desert, exposed to one wind direction, dunes perpendicular to the wind direction are found to be transverse or barchans, only sand availability plays a key role on their formation and evolution. However, the evolution time scale of such structures (several years) limits our investigation of their morphodynamics understanding. We use here, a laboratory experiment able to considerably reduce space and time scales by reproducing millimeter to centimeter subaqueous dunes by controlling environmental parameters such as type of wind (multi-winds, bimodal, quasi-bimodal or unidirectional wind) and amount of sediment [2,3]. This set up allows us to characterize more precisely the different modes of dune formation and long-term evolution, and to constrain the physics behind the morphogenesis and dynamics of dunes. Indeed, the formation, evolution and transition between the different dune modes are better understood and quantified thanks to a new setting experiment able to give a remote sediment source in continuous (closer to what happens in terrestrial desert): a sand distributor that controls the input sand flow. Firstly, in a one wind direction conditions, we managed to follow and quantify the growth of the instability of transverse dunes that break into barchans when the sand supply is low and reversely when the sand supply is higher, barchan fields evolve to bars dunes ending to form transverse. The next step will be to perform experiments under two winds conditions in order to better constrain the formation mode of linear dunes, depending also only on the input sand flux. Previous experiments shown that linear "finger" dunes can be triggered by the break of transverse dunes and then the elongating of one barchan's arm [4]. These studies can farther explain more precisely in

  13. Lake Eyre, Simpson Desert, South Australia, Australia

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1990-01-01

    Lake Eyre, Simpson Desert, South Australia, Australia (27.0S, 136.0E) is normally a dry lakebed for years on end. However on rare occasions small amounts of rainfall are recorded and ponding can be seen in low parts of the lake, as in this image, where an algae bloom in the water is seen as a dark pink area on the lakebed. The Finke Riverbed intersects Lake Eyre but it is normally a dry wash and seldom contributes water to the lake.

  14. Water capture by a desert beetle.

    PubMed

    Parker, A R; Lawrence, C R

    2001-11-01

    Some beetles in the Namib Desert collect drinking water from fog-laden wind on their backs. We show here that these large droplets form by virtue of the insect's bumpy surface, which consists of alternating hydrophobic, wax-coated and hydrophilic, non-waxy regions. The design of this fog-collecting structure can be reproduced cheaply on a commercial scale and may find application in water-trapping tent and building coverings, for example, or in water condensers and engines. PMID:11689930

  15. Spreading Deserts--The Hand of Man. Worldwatch Paper 13.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Eckholm, Erik; Brown, Lester R.

    The report identifies regions in which deserts and arid zones are increasing; discusses social and climatic causes of deserts; and suggests ways to cope with and reverse problems of famine, malnutrition, and drought. Increasingly, land is being sapped of its ability to sustain agriculture and human habitation north and south of the Sahara, in…

  16. Negev: Land, Water, and Life in a Desert Environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Back, William

    In view of the continuing increased concern about the extreme fragility of deserts and desert margins, Negev provides a timely discussion of land-use practices compatible with the often conflicting goals of preservation and development. The success o f agricultural and hydrologic experiments in the Negev desert of Israel offers hope to the large percentage of the world's population that lives with an unacceptably low quality of life in desert margins. Deserts are the one remaining type of open space that, with proper use, has the potential for alleviating the misery often associated with expanding population.In addition to the science in the book, the author repeatedly reinforces the concept that “western civilization is inextricably bound to the Negev and its environs, from which it has drawn, via its desert-born religions—Judasium, Christianity, and Islam—many of the mores and concepts, and much of the imagery and love of the desert, including man's relation to nature and to ‘God’.” Deserts often are erroneously perceived to be areas of no water: In reality, these are areas in which a little rainfall occurs sporadically and unpredictably over time. This meager water supply can be meticulously garnered to produce nutritious crops and forage.

  17. WIND CHARACTERISTICS OF MESQUITE STREETS IN THE NORTHERN CHIHUAHUAN DESERT

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Past research has shown that the most important areas for active sand movement in the northern part of the Chihuahuan Desert are mesquite-dominated desert ecosystems possessing sandy soil texture. The most active sand movement in the mesquite-dominated ecosystems has been shown to take place on elon...

  18. Nationwide Desert Highway Assessment: A Case Study in China

    PubMed Central

    Mao, Xuesong; Wang, Fuchun; Wang, Binggang

    2011-01-01

    The natural environment affects the construction of desert highways. Conversely, highway construction affects the natural environment and puts the ecological environment at a disadvantage. To satisfy the variety and hierarchy of desert highway construction and discover the spatio-temporal distribution of the natural environment and its effect on highway construction engineering, an assessment of the natural regional divisions of desert highways in China is carried out for the first time. Based on the general principles and method for the natural region division, the principles, method and index system for desert highway assessment is put forward by combining the desert highway construction features and the azonal differentiation law. The index system combines the dominant indicator and four auxiliary indicators. The dominant indicator is defined by the desert’s comprehensive state index and the auxiliary indicators include the sand dune height, the blown sand strength, the vegetation coverage ratio and the annual average temperature difference. First the region is divided according to the dominant indicator. Then the region boundaries are amended according to the four auxiliary indicators. Finally the natural region division map for desert highway assessment is presented. The Chinese desert highways can be divided into three sections: the east medium effect region, the middle medium-severe effect region, and the west slight-medium effect region. The natural region division map effectively paves the way for the route planning, design, construction, maintenance and ongoing management of desert highways, and further helps environmental protection. PMID:21845155

  19. Food Deserts and Overweight Schoolchildren: Evidence from Pennsylvania

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Schafft, Kai A.; Jensen, Eric B.; Hinrichs, C. Clare

    2009-01-01

    The concept of the "food desert", an area with limited access to retail food stores, has increasingly been used within social scientific and public health research to explore the dimensions of spatial inequality and community well-being. While research has demonstrated that food deserts are frequently characterized by higher levels of poverty and…

  20. Resilience Mechanisms and Recovery in a Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Ecosystem

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Background: Desert grassland ecosystems of the Chihuahuan Desert, and other parts of the southwestern U.S., underwent significant changes from the late 1800s through the 1950s. Most often, grassland states were converted to shrubland states. Such transitions have been associated with diminished live...

  1. NASA Desert RATS 2011 Education Pilot Project and Classroom Activities

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Gruener, J. E.; McGlone, M.; Allen, J.; Tobola, K.; Graff, P.

    2012-01-01

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) is a multi-year series of tests of hardware and operations carried out annually in the high desert of Arizona, as an analog to future exploration activities beyond low Earth orbit [1]. For the past several years, these tests have occurred in the San Francisco Volcanic Field, north of Flagstaff. For the 2011 Desert RATS season, the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) at NASA headquarters provided support to develop an education pilot project that would include student activities to parallel the Desert RATS mission planning and exploration activities in the classroom, and educator training sessions. The development of the pilot project was a joint effort between the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Directorate and the Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP), managed at Penn State University.

  2. Dew condensation on desert beetle skin.

    PubMed

    Guadarrama-Cetina, J; Mongruel, A; Medici, M-G; Baquero, E; Parker, A R; Milimouk-Melnytchuk, I; González-Viñas, W; Beysens, D

    2014-11-01

    Some tenebrionind beetles inhabiting the Namib desert are known for using their body to collect water droplets from wind-blown fogs. We aim to determine whether dew water collection is also possible for desert insects. For this purpose, we investigated the infra-red emissivity, and the wetting and structural properties, of the surface of the elytra of a preserved specimen of Physasterna cribripes (Tenebrionidæ) beetle, where the macro-structure appears as a series of "bumps", with "valleys" between them. Dew formation experiments were carried out in a condensation chamber. The surface properties (infra-red emissivity, wetting properties) were dominated by the wax at the elytra surface and, to a lower extent, its micro-structure. We performed scanning electron microscope on histological sections and determined the infra-red emissivity using a scanning pyrometer. The emissivity measured (0.95±0.07 between 8-14 μm) was close to the black body value. Dew formation occurred on the insect's elytra, which can be explained by these surface properties. From the surface coverage of the condensed drops it was found that dew forms primarily in the valleys between the bumps. The difference in droplet nucleation rate between bumps and valleys can be attributed to the hexagonal microstructure on the surface of the valleys, whereas the surface of the bumps is smooth. The drops can slide when they reach a critical size, and be collected at the insect's mouth. PMID:25403836

  3. The Solar Spectrum in the Atacama Desert

    PubMed Central

    Cordero, R. R.; Damiani, A.; Seckmeyer, G.; Jorquera, J.; Caballero, M.; Rowe, P.; Ferrer, J.; Mubarak, R.; Carrasco, J.; Rondanelli, R.; Matus, M.; Laroze, D.

    2016-01-01

    The Atacama Desert has been pointed out as one of the places on earth where the highest surface irradiance may occur. This area is characterized by its high altitude, prevalent cloudless conditions and relatively low columns of ozone and water vapor. Aimed at the characterization of the solar spectrum in the Atacama Desert, we carried out in February-March 2015 ground-based measurements of the spectral irradiance (from the ultraviolet to the near infrared) at seven locations that ranged from the city of Antofagasta (on the southern pacific coastline) to the Chajnantor Plateau (5,100 m altitude). Our spectral measurements allowed us to retrieve the total ozone column, the precipitable water, and the aerosol properties at each location. We found that changes in these parameters, as well as the shorter optical path length at high-altitude locations, lead to significant increases in the surface irradiance with the altitude. Our measurements show that, in the range 0–5100 m altitude, surface irradiance increases with the altitude by about 27% in the infrared range, 6% in the visible range, and 20% in the ultraviolet range. Spectral measurements carried out at the Izaña Observatory (Tenerife, Spain), in Hannover (Germany) and in Santiago (Chile), were used for further comparisons. PMID:26932150

  4. Microbiology and Moisture Uptake of Desert Soils

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kress, M. E.; Bryant, E. P.; Morgan, S. W.; Rech, S.; McKay, C. P.

    2005-12-01

    We have initiated an interdisciplinary study of the microbiology and water content of desert soils to better understand microbial activity in extreme arid environments. Water is the one constituent that no organism can live without; nevertheless, there are places on Earth with an annual rainfall near zero that do support microbial ecosystems. These hyperarid deserts (e.g. Atacama and the Antarctic Dry Valleys) are the closest terrestrial analogs to Mars, which is the subject of future exploration motivated by the search for life beyond Earth. We are modeling the moisture uptake by soils in hyperarid environments to quantify the environmental constraints that regulate the survival and growth of micro-organisms. Together with the studies of moisture uptake, we are also characterizing the microbial population in these soils using molecular and culturing methods. We are in the process of extracting DNA from these soils using MoBio extraction kits. This DNA will be used as a template to amplify bacterial and eukaryotic ribosomal DNA to determine the diversity of the microbial population. We also have been attempting to determine the density of organisms by culturing on one-half strength R2A agar. The long-range goal of this research is to identify special adaptations of terrestrial life that allow them to inhabit extreme arid environments, while simultaneously quantifying the environmental parameters that enforce limits on these organisms' growth and survival.

  5. The Solar Spectrum in the Atacama Desert

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cordero, R. R.; Damiani, A.; Seckmeyer, G.; Jorquera, J.; Caballero, M.; Rowe, P.; Ferrer, J.; Mubarak, R.; Carrasco, J.; Rondanelli, R.; Matus, M.; Laroze, D.

    2016-03-01

    The Atacama Desert has been pointed out as one of the places on earth where the highest surface irradiance may occur. This area is characterized by its high altitude, prevalent cloudless conditions and relatively low columns of ozone and water vapor. Aimed at the characterization of the solar spectrum in the Atacama Desert, we carried out in February-March 2015 ground-based measurements of the spectral irradiance (from the ultraviolet to the near infrared) at seven locations that ranged from the city of Antofagasta (on the southern pacific coastline) to the Chajnantor Plateau (5,100 m altitude). Our spectral measurements allowed us to retrieve the total ozone column, the precipitable water, and the aerosol properties at each location. We found that changes in these parameters, as well as the shorter optical path length at high-altitude locations, lead to significant increases in the surface irradiance with the altitude. Our measurements show that, in the range 0-5100 m altitude, surface irradiance increases with the altitude by about 27% in the infrared range, 6% in the visible range, and 20% in the ultraviolet range. Spectral measurements carried out at the Izaña Observatory (Tenerife, Spain), in Hannover (Germany) and in Santiago (Chile), were used for further comparisons.

  6. The Solar Spectrum in the Atacama Desert.

    PubMed

    Cordero, R R; Damiani, A; Seckmeyer, G; Jorquera, J; Caballero, M; Rowe, P; Ferrer, J; Mubarak, R; Carrasco, J; Rondanelli, R; Matus, M; Laroze, D

    2016-01-01

    The Atacama Desert has been pointed out as one of the places on earth where the highest surface irradiance may occur. This area is characterized by its high altitude, prevalent cloudless conditions and relatively low columns of ozone and water vapor. Aimed at the characterization of the solar spectrum in the Atacama Desert, we carried out in February-March 2015 ground-based measurements of the spectral irradiance (from the ultraviolet to the near infrared) at seven locations that ranged from the city of Antofagasta (on the southern pacific coastline) to the Chajnantor Plateau (5,100 m altitude). Our spectral measurements allowed us to retrieve the total ozone column, the precipitable water, and the aerosol properties at each location. We found that changes in these parameters, as well as the shorter optical path length at high-altitude locations, lead to significant increases in the surface irradiance with the altitude. Our measurements show that, in the range 0-5100 m altitude, surface irradiance increases with the altitude by about 27% in the infrared range, 6% in the visible range, and 20% in the ultraviolet range. Spectral measurements carried out at the Izaña Observatory (Tenerife, Spain), in Hannover (Germany) and in Santiago (Chile), were used for further comparisons. PMID:26932150

  7. Evolutionary hotspots in the Mojave Desert

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Vandergast, Amy G.; Inman, Richard D.; Barr, Kelly R.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Esque, Todd C.; Hathaway, Stacie A.; Wood, Dustin A.; Medica, Philip A.; Breinholt, Jesse W.; Stephen, Catherine L.; Gottscho, Andrew D.; Marks, Sharyn B.; Jennings, W. Bryan; Fisher, Robert N.

    2013-01-01

    Genetic diversity within species provides the raw material for adaptation and evolution. Just as regions of high species diversity are conservation targets, identifying regions containing high genetic diversity and divergence within and among populations may be important to protect future evolutionary potential. When multiple co-distributed species show spatial overlap in high genetic diversity and divergence, these regions can be considered evolutionary hotspots. We mapped spatial population genetic structure for 17 animal species across the Mojave Desert, USA. We analyzed these in concurrence and located 10 regions of high genetic diversity, divergence or both among species. These were mainly concentrated along the western and southern boundaries where ecotones between mountain, grassland and desert habitat are prevalent, and along the Colorado River. We evaluated the extent to which these hotspots overlapped protected lands and utility-scale renewable energy development projects of the Bureau of Land Management. While 30–40% of the total hotspot area was categorized as protected, between 3–7% overlapped with proposed renewable energy project footprints, and up to 17% overlapped with project footprints combined with transmission corridors. Overlap of evolutionary hotspots with renewable energy development mainly occurred in 6 of the 10 identified hotspots. Resulting GIS-based maps can be incorporated into ongoing landscape planning efforts and highlight specific regions where further investigation of impacts to population persistence and genetic connectivity may be warranted.

  8. Landscape histories, livestock management, and mesquite expansion in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    During the past 125 years the northern Chihuahuan Desert has undergone a significant shift from desert grasslands to desert scrub conditions, with mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) dramatically increasing in dominance during this period. The transition from desert grasslands is viewed as deleterious, ...

  9. 43 CFR 2524.1 - Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... compliance with the desert-land laws. 2524.1 Section 2524.1 Public Lands: Interior Regulations Relating to... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.1 Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws. (a) By section 5 of the Act of June 27, 1906 (34...

  10. 43 CFR 2524.5 - Assignment of desert-land entries in whole or in part.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Assignment of desert-land entries in whole... (Continued) BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR LAND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.5 Assignment of desert-land entries...

  11. 43 CFR 2524.1 - Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... compliance with the desert-land laws. 2524.1 Section 2524.1 Public Lands: Interior Regulations Relating to... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.1 Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws. (a) By section 5 of the Act of June 27, 1906 (34...

  12. 43 CFR 2524.5 - Assignment of desert-land entries in whole or in part.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Assignment of desert-land entries in whole... (Continued) BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR LAND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.5 Assignment of desert-land entries...

  13. 43 CFR 2524.1 - Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... compliance with the desert-land laws. 2524.1 Section 2524.1 Public Lands: Interior Regulations Relating to... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.1 Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws. (a) By section 5 of the Act of June 27, 1906 (34...

  14. 43 CFR 2524.5 - Assignment of desert-land entries in whole or in part.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Assignment of desert-land entries in whole... (Continued) BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR LAND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.5 Assignment of desert-land entries...

  15. 43 CFR 2524.5 - Assignment of desert-land entries in whole or in part.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 43 Public Lands: Interior 2 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Assignment of desert-land entries in whole... (Continued) BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR LAND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.5 Assignment of desert-land entries...

  16. 43 CFR 2524.1 - Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... compliance with the desert-land laws. 2524.1 Section 2524.1 Public Lands: Interior Regulations Relating to... (2000) DESERT-LAND ENTRIES Desert-Land Entries Within a Reclamation Project § 2524.1 Conditions excusing entrymen from compliance with the desert-land laws. (a) By section 5 of the Act of June 27, 1906 (34...

  17. Climate and soil salinity in the deserts of Central Asia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pankova, E. I.; Konyushkova, M. V.

    2013-07-01

    A comparative analysis of climatic and soil salinity characteristics of the deserts of Central Asia, including deserts of the Turan Depression, the Gobi Desert, and deserts of the Dzungar and Tarim depressions was performed. The climatic characteristics—the degree of aridity, the degree of continentality, and the amount and regime of precipitation—are different in these deserts. No direct relationships between the areas occupied by the automorphic salt-affected soils and the aridity of the climate are observed in the studied regions. In the automorphic landscapes of Asian deserts, the degree and chemistry of the soil salinization and the distribution of salt-affected soils are controlled by the history of the particular territories rather than by their modern climatic conditions. The presence and properties of the salt-bearing rocks and the eolian migration of salts play the most significant role. The deficit of moisture in the modern climate favors the preservation of salt accumulations in places of their origin. The specific features of the climate, including the regime of precipitation, affect the redistribution of salts in the profiles of automorphic salt-affected soils. An increase in the degree of climatic continentality is accompanied by the decrease in the intensity of weathering and initial accumulation of salts. A different situation is observed in the soils of hydromorphic desert landscapes, in which the degree of salinity of the surface horizons and the area occupied by salt-affected soils are directly influenced by the modern climatic conditions.

  18. Evolution and Functional Classification of Vertebrate Gene Deserts

    SciTech Connect

    Ovcharenko, I; Loots, G; Nobrega, M; Hardison, R; Miller, W; Stubbs, L

    2004-07-14

    Gene deserts, long stretches of DNA sequence devoid of protein coding genes, span approximately one quarter of the human genome. Through human-chicken genome comparisons we were able to characterized one third of human gene deserts as evolutionarily stable - they are highly conserved in vertebrates, resist chromosomal rearrangements, and contain multiple conserved non-coding elements physically linked to their neighboring genes. A linear relationship was observed between human and chicken orthologous stable gene deserts, where the human deserts appear to have expanded homogeneously by a uniform accumulation of repetitive elements. Stable gene deserts are associated with key vertebrate genes that construct the framework of vertebrate development; many of which encode transcription factors. We show that the regulatory machinery governing genes associated with stable gene deserts operates differently from other regions in the human genome and relies heavily on distant regulatory elements. The regulation guided by these elements is independent of the distance between the gene and its distant regulatory element, or the distance between two distant regulatory cassettes. The location of gene deserts and their associated genes in the genome is independent of chromosomal length or content presenting these regions as well-bounded regions evolving separately from the rest of the genome.

  19. Baking black opal in the desert sun: The importance of silica in desert varnish

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Randall S.; Lynne, Bridget Y.; Sephton, Mark A.; Kolb, Vera M.; Perry, Carole C.; Staley, James T.

    2006-07-01

    Desert varnish, a widespread black manganese-rich rock coating, contains labile organic compounds, but a mechanism for its formation and for their preservation remains unproven. Using Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and scanning transmission electron microscopy, we analyzed varnish and found amorphous hydrated silica (opal) and the silica mineral moganite, similar to findings we have reported from siliceous hot-spring deposits. We suggest that the slow dissolution of silica from anhydrous and hydrous minerals, and its subsequent gelling, condensation, and hardening, provides a simple explanation of a formation mechanism for desert varnish and silica glazes and the incorporation of organic material from local environments. These chemical signatures, sequestered in silica, provide valuable information about terrestrial and extraterrestrial paleoenvironments.

  20. Properties of Desert Sand and CMAS Glass

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bansal, Narottam P.; Choi, Sung R.

    2014-01-01

    As-received desert sand from a Middle East country has been characterized for its phase composition and thermal stability. X-ray diffraction analysis showed the presence of quartz (SiO2), calcite (CaCO3), gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O), and NaAlSi3O8 phases in as-received desert sand and showed weight loss of approx. 35 percent due to decomposition of CaCO3 and CaSO4.2H2O when heated to 1400 C. A batch of as-received desert sand was melted into calcium magnesium aluminosilicate (CMAS) glass at approx. 1500 C. From inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry, chemical composition of the CMAS glass was analyzed to be 27.8CaO-4MgO-5Al2O3-61.6SiO2-0.6Fe2O3-1K2O (mole percent). Various physical, thermal and mechanical properties of the glass have been evaluated. Bulk density of CMAS glass was 2.69 g/cc, Young's modulus 92 GPa, Shear modulus 36 GPa, Poisson's ratio 0.28, dilatometric glass transition temperature (T (sub g)) 706 C, softening point (T (sub d)) 764 C, Vickers microhardness 6.3 +/- 0.4 GPa, indentation fracture toughness 0.75 +/- 0.15 MPa.m (sup 1/2), and coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) 9.8 x 10 (exp -6)/degC in the temperature range 25 to 700 C. Temperature dependence of viscosity has also been estimated from various reference points of the CMAS glass using the Vogel-Fulcher-Tamman (VFT) equation. The glass remained amorphous after heat treating at 850 C for 10 hr but crystallized into CaSiO3 and Ca-Mg-Al silicate phases at 900 C or higher temperatures. Crystallization kinetics of the CMAS glass has also been investigated by differential thermal analysis (DTA). Activation energies for the crystallization of two different phases in the glass were calculated to be 403 and 483 kJ/mol, respectively.

  1. Geolab 2010: Desert Rats Field Demonstration

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Evans, Cindy A.; Calaway, M. J.; Bell, M. S.

    2009-01-01

    In 2010, Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS), NASA's annual field exercise designed to test spacesuit and rover technologies, will include a first generation lunar habitat facility, the Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU). The habitat will participate in joint operations in northern Arizona with the Lunar Electric Rover (LER) and will be used as a multi-use laboratory and working space. A Geology Laboratory or GeoLab is included in the HDU design. Historically, science participation in Desert RATS exercises has supported the technology demonstrations with geological traverse activities that are consistent with preliminary concepts for lunar surface science Extravehicular Activities (EVAs). Next year s HDU demonstration is a starting point to guide the development of requirements for the Lunar Surface Systems Program and test initial operational concepts for an early lunar excursion habitat that would follow geological traverses along with the LER. For the GeoLab, these objectives are specifically applied to support future geological surface science activities. The goal of our GeoLab is to enhance geological science returns with the infrastructure that supports preliminary examination, early analytical characterization of key samples, and high-grading lunar samples for return to Earth [1, 2] . Figure 1: Inside view schematic of the GeoLab a 1/8 section of the HDU, including a glovebox for handling and examining geological samples. Other outfitting facilities are not depicted in this figure. GeoLab Description: The centerpiece of the GeoLab is a glovebox, allowing for samples to be brought into the habitat in a protected environment for preliminary examination (see Fig. 1). The glovebox will be attached to the habitat bulkhead and contain three sample pass-through antechambers that would allow direct transfer of samples from outside the HDU to inside the glovebox. We will evaluate the need for redundant chambers, and other uses for the glovebox

  2. Desert Research and Technology Studies 2005 Report

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ross, Amy J.; Kosmo, Joseph J.; Janoiko, Barbara A.; Bernard, Craig; Splawn, Keith; Eppler, Dean B.

    2006-01-01

    During the first two weeks of September 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC) Advanced Extravehicular Activity (AEVA) team led the field test portion of the 2005 Research and Technology Studies (RATS). The Desert RATS field test activity is the culmination of the various individual science and advanced engineering discipline areas year-long technology and operations development efforts into a coordinated field test demonstration under representative (analog) planetary surface terrain conditions. The purpose of the RATS is to drive out preliminary exploration concept of operations EVA system requirements by providing hands-on experience with simulated planetary surface exploration extravehicular activity (EVA) hardware and procedures. The RATS activities also are of significant importance in helping to develop the necessary levels of technical skills and experience for the next generation of engineers, scientists, technicians, and astronauts who will be responsible for realizing the goals of the Constellation Program. The 2005 Desert RATS was the eighth RATS field test and was the most systems-oriented, integrated field test to date with participants from NASA field centers, the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), industry partners, and research institutes. Each week of the test, the 2005 RATS addressed specific sets of objectives. The first week focused on the performance of surface science astro-biological sampling operations, including planetary protection considerations and procedures. The second week supported evaluation of the Science, Crew, Operations, and Utility Testbed (SCOUT) proto-type rover and its sub-systems. Throughout the duration of the field test, the Communications, Avionics, and Infomatics pack (CAI-pack) was tested. This year the CAI-pack served to provide information on surface navigation, science sample collection procedures, and EVA timeline awareness. Additionally, 2005 was the first

  3. Geomorphometirc Segmentation of Shield Deserts by Self-Organizing Maps

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foroutan, M.; Kompanizare, M.; Ehsani, A. H.

    2015-12-01

    Shield deserts have developed on ancient crystalline bedrocks and mainly composed of folded and faulted rocks hardened by heat and pressure over millions of years. They were unearthed by erosion and form steep-sided hills and basins filled with sediments. The Sahara, Arabian, southern African, central Kavir and Australian deserts are in this group. Their ranges usually supply groundwater resources or in some regions contain huge oil reservoirs. Geomorphological segmentation of shield deserts is one of the fundamental tools in their land use or site investigation planning as well as in their surface water and groundwater management. In many studies the morphology of shield deserts has been investigated by limited qualitative and subjective methods using limited number of simple parameters such as surface elevation and slope. However the importance of these regions supports the need for their accurate and quantitative morphologic classification. The present study attempts to implement a quantitative method, Self-Organizing Map (SOM), for geomorphological classification of a typical shield desert within Kavir Desert, Iran. The area is tectonically stable and characterized by flat clay pans, playas, well-developed pediments around scattered and low elevation ranges. Twenty-two multi-scale morphometric parameters were derived from the first- to third-orders partial derivatives of the surface elevation. Seven optimized parameters with their proper scales were selected by Artificial Neural Networks, Optimum Index Factor, Davies-Bouldin Index and statistic models. Finally, the area was segmented to seven homogeneous areas by SOM algorithm. The results revealed the most distinguishing parameter set (MDPS) for morphologic segmentation of shield deserts. The same segmentation results through using MDPS for another shield deserts in Australia proves the applicability of MDPS for shield deserts segmentation.

  4. Browning in Desert Boundaries in Asia in Recent Decades

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Jeong, Su-Jong; Ho, Chang-Hoi; Brown, Molly E.; Kug, Jong-Seong; Piao, Shilong

    2011-01-01

    In this study, the changes in desert boundaries in Asia (Gobi, Karakum, Lut, Taklimakan, and Thar deserts) during the growing season (April October) in the years 1982 2008 were investigated by analyzing the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), precipitation, and temperature. In the desert boundary regions, the domain mean NDVI values increased by 7.2% per decade in 1982 1998 but decreased by 6.8% per decade thereafter. Accordingly, the bare soil areas (or nonvegetated areas) of the inside of the desert boundaries contracted by 9.8% per decade in the 1990s and expanded by 8.7% per decade in the 2000s. It is noted that the five deserts experience nearly simultaneous NDVI changes although they cover a very diverse area of Asia. In contrast, changes in temperature and precipitation in the deserts show rather diverse results. In desert boundaries located along 40 N (Gobi, Taklimakan, and Karakum), the decadal changes in vegetation greenness were mainly related to regional climate during the entire analysis period. Precipitation increased in the 1990s, providing favorable conditions for vegetation growth (i.e., greening), but precipitation reduced (19 mm per decade) and warming intensified (0.7 C per decade) in the 2000s, causing less moisture to be available for vegetation growth (i.e., browning). In desert boundaries below 40 N (Lut and Thar), although an increase in precipitation (8 mm per decade) led to greening in the 1990s, local changes in precipitation and temperature did not necessarily cause browning in the 2000s. Observed multidecadal changes in vegetation greenness in the present study suggest that under significant global and/or regional warming, changes in moisture availability for vegetation growth in desert boundaries are an important factor when understanding decadal changes in areas vulnerable to desertification over Asia.

  5. Rock Varnish: Recorder of Desert Wetness?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Broecker, W. S.; Liu, T.

    2001-12-01

    Rock varnish is a thin coating (<200 μ m) of a cocktail rich in Mn, Fe, and clay minerals that is ubiquitous in desert regions. It has become the center of a contentious controversy revolving around its use to date geomorphic surfaces and/or to evaluate past climate conditions. We observe pronounced temporal variations in Mn and Ba concentration that are similar over large regions and that likely relate to variations in paleo-wetness. The mode of formation of varnish remains uncertain, but anthropogenic Pb concentrated in outermost varnish layers indicates its continued formation, and experiments using cosmogenic Be suggest that, while precipitation is a primary control, dust, dew, and aerosols may also be important in delivering the ingredients of varnish. We suggest several steps that may lead to rejuvenation and future breakthrough in varnish studies.

  6. Thermodynamic and pedogenic differences between desert microsites

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Young, Michael; Caldwell, Todd; Lin, Henry

    2014-05-01

    Feedbacks exist between soil properties, climate and ecological productivity. In arid alluvial fan deposits common to the southwestern United States, the strength of these complex feedbacks change slowly over long time frames (e.g., 10s to 100s of millennia) as the climate has become drier and warmer. The feedbacks are also influenced by relatively short-time-frame processes of shrub establishment and subshrub processes that create distinct interspace and sub-canopy microsites. Pedogenic processes in both cases proceed at different rates—slowly in interspaces and rapidly beneath canopies—yet both are subject to similar energy and mass inputs entering the system from above the canopy. In this study, we apply a branch of non-equilibrium (open system) thermodynamics to explain desert pedogenic processes and how the two microsites are tied together. The general concept is that energy and mass flow naturally in directions that minimize gradients, hence maximizing randomness and entropy. We hypothesize that younger soils begin as random bodies, but that energy input from the sun, and mass input from water, dust and vegetation create gradients over time, leading to microsites of pavements and canopies. These features eventually reach metastability and the potential for self-destruction increases (i.e., desert pavements eventually fall apart and erode). We seek to apply these concepts to Mojave Desert soils/ecosystems that have been studied in the field and the laboratory, with the goal of explaining and/or predicting the pathways of pedogenesis in these environments. Of particular interest is how these concepts might be applied in microsite locations influence the two-way coupling of pedologic development and ecosystem functions, and whether we can predict the strength of these feedbacks and processes using knowledge of soil systems today. The field site is found in the Mojave Natural Preserve, CA, USA, where high spatial resolution infiltrometer measurements were

  7. Desert Ants Learn Vibration and Magnetic Landmarks

    PubMed Central

    Buehlmann, Cornelia

    2012-01-01

    The desert ants Cataglyphis navigate not only by path integration but also by using visual and olfactory landmarks to pinpoint the nest entrance. Here we show that Cataglyphis noda can additionally use magnetic and vibrational landmarks as nest-defining cues. The magnetic field may typically provide directional rather than positional information, and vibrational signals so far have been shown to be involved in social behavior. Thus it remains questionable if magnetic and vibration landmarks are usually provided by the ants' habitat as nest-defining cues. However, our results point to the flexibility of the ants' navigational system, which even makes use of cues that are probably most often sensed in a different context. PMID:22412989

  8. Ecophysiology of two Sonoran Desert evergreen shrubs during extreme drought

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Recent drought across the arid Southwest US may be especially problematic for evergreen desert species that maintain leaves through dry periods. In July, 2002 we compared the ecophysiogical performance of the microphyllous creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) to broadleaved jojoba (Simmondisa chinensis...

  9. Camelid genomes reveal evolution and adaptation to desert environments.

    PubMed

    Wu, Huiguang; Guang, Xuanmin; Al-Fageeh, Mohamed B; Cao, Junwei; Pan, Shengkai; Zhou, Huanmin; Zhang, Li; Abutarboush, Mohammed H; Xing, Yanping; Xie, Zhiyuan; Alshanqeeti, Ali S; Zhang, Yanru; Yao, Qiulin; Al-Shomrani, Badr M; Zhang, Dong; Li, Jiang; Manee, Manee M; Yang, Zili; Yang, Linfeng; Liu, Yiyi; Zhang, Jilin; Altammami, Musaad A; Wang, Shenyuan; Yu, Lili; Zhang, Wenbin; Liu, Sanyang; Ba, La; Liu, Chunxia; Yang, Xukui; Meng, Fanhua; Wang, Shaowei; Li, Lu; Li, Erli; Li, Xueqiong; Wu, Kaifeng; Zhang, Shu; Wang, Junyi; Yin, Ye; Yang, Huanming; Al-Swailem, Abdulaziz M; Wang, Jun

    2014-01-01

    Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus), dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and alpaca (Vicugna pacos) are economically important livestock. Although the Bactrian camel and dromedary are large, typically arid-desert-adapted mammals, alpacas are adapted to plateaus. Here we present high-quality genome sequences of these three species. Our analysis reveals the demographic history of these species since the Tortonian Stage of the Miocene and uncovers a striking correlation between large fluctuations in population size and geological time boundaries. Comparative genomic analysis reveals complex features related to desert adaptations, including fat and water metabolism, stress responses to heat, aridity, intense ultraviolet radiation and choking dust. Transcriptomic analysis of Bactrian camels further reveals unique osmoregulation, osmoprotection and compensatory mechanisms for water reservation underpinned by high blood glucose levels. We hypothesize that these physiological mechanisms represent kidney evolutionary adaptations to the desert environment. This study advances our understanding of camelid evolution and the adaptation of camels to arid-desert environments. PMID:25333821

  10. Assessing the Benefits of Urban Forestry in Mojave Desert Communities

    EPA Science Inventory

    As the climate and environment change due to human activity, an understanding of the existing natural resources becomes paramount. Urban forests of Mojave Desert communities have the potential to reduce air pollution, heat island effects, and energy consumption. Regions throughou...

  11. Desert Varnish -- Preservation of Biofabrics and Implications for Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Probst, L. W.; Allen, C. C.; Thomas-Keprta, K. L.; Clemett, S. J.; Longazo, T. G.; Nelman-Gonzalez, M. A.; Sams, C.

    2002-03-01

    Preliminary data suggest that biofabrics are preserved by Mn and Fe minerals (birnessite and hematite) in desert varnish. A martian hematite-rich deposit with indications of biological activity may prove to be a prime site for future sample return.

  12. Role of remote sensing in desert locust early warning

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cressman, Keith

    2013-01-01

    Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria, Forskål) plagues have historically had devastating consequences on food security in Africa and Asia. The current strategy to reduce the frequency of plagues and manage desert locust infestations is early warning and preventive control. To achieve this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations operates one of the oldest, largest, and best-known migratory pest monitoring systems in the world. Within this system, remote sensing plays an important role in detecting rainfall and green vegetation. Despite recent technological advances in data management and analysis, communications, and remote sensing, monitoring desert locusts and preventing plagues in the years ahead will continue to be a challenge from a geopolitical and financial standpoint for affected countries and the international donor community. We present an overview of the use of remote sensing in desert locust early warning.

  13. Biotic Processes Regulating the Carbon Balance of Desert Ecosystems

    SciTech Connect

    R. S. Nowak; J. Arnone; L. Fenstermaker; and S. D. Smith

    2005-07-26

    This project provided the funding to operate and maintain the Nevada Desert FACE Facility. This support funds the CO{sub 2}, system repairs and maintenance, basic physical and biological site information, and personnel that are essential for the experiment to continue. They have continued to assess the effects of elevated CO{sub 2} on three key processes: (1) leaf- to plant-level responses of desert vegetation to elevated atmospheric CO{sub 2}; (2) ecosystem-level responses; and (3) integration of plant and ecosystem processes to understand carbon balance of deserts. The focus is the seminal interactions among atmospheric CO{sub 2}, water, and nitrogen that drive desert responses to elevated CO{sub 2} and explicitly address processes that occur across scales (biological, spatial, and temporal).

  14. Rodent-denuded areas of the northern Mojave desert

    SciTech Connect

    Hunter, R.B.; Romney, E.M.; Wallace, A.

    1980-01-01

    Populations of pocket gophers and rabbits regulate or control the perennial vegetation on relatively large sites in the northern Mojave Desert. Aboveground shoots are pruned and whole plants are killed by complete cutting of main roots.

  15. Evening Pass Over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East

    NASA Video Gallery

    This video over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East was taken by the crew of Expedition 29 aboard the International Space Station. This sequence of shots was taken on Oct. 6, 2011, from 19:46:23 ...

  16. Technical paper on energy farming of desert species

    SciTech Connect

    Felker, P.

    1980-01-01

    Properties of five desert tree legumes are tabulated. Potential resource areas are classified into 4 major areas by water supply and discussed in order of increasing resource potential. Conclusions and recommendations are presented. (MHR)

  17. Species Boundaries and Host Range of Tortoise Mites (Uropodoidea) Phoretic on Bark Beetles (Scolytinae), Using Morphometric and Molecular Markers

    PubMed Central

    Knee, Wayne; Beaulieu, Frédéric; Skevington, Jeffrey H.; Kelso, Scott; Cognato, Anthony I.; Forbes, Mark R.

    2012-01-01

    Understanding the ecology and evolutionary history of symbionts and their hosts requires accurate taxonomic knowledge, including clear species boundaries and phylogenies. Tortoise mites (Mesostigmata: Uropodoidea) are among the most diverse arthropod associates of bark beetles (Curculionidae: Scolytinae), but their taxonomy and host associations are largely unstudied. We tested the hypotheses that (1) morphologically defined species are supported by molecular data, and that (2) bark beetle uropodoids with a broad host range comprise cryptic species. To do so, we assessed the species boundaries of uropodoid mites collected from 51 host species, across 11 countries and 103 sites, using morphometric data as well as partial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) and nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA (28S). Overall, morphologically defined species were confirmed by molecular datasets, with a few exceptions. Twenty-nine of the 36 uropodoid species (Trichouropoda, Nenteria and Uroobovella) collected in this study had narrow host ranges, while seven species had putative broad host ranges. In all but one species, U. orri, our data supported the existence of these host generalists, which contrasts with the typical finding that widespread generalists are actually complexes of cryptic specialists. PMID:23071768

  18. Lateral migration of linear dunes in the Strzelecki Desert, Australia

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Rubin, D.M.

    1990-01-01

    Preferential accumulation of sand on east-facing flanks indicates that the dunes migrated eastward several metres during the Holocene. Moreover, the west-facing flanks of some dunes have experienced a minimum of tens of metres of erosion. This asymmetric erosion and deposition were caused by dune obliquity and lateral migration that may have begun as early as the Pleistocene. Dunes in the Strzelecki Desert and in the adjacent Simpson Desert display a variety of grossly different internal structures. -from Author

  19. Making silica rock coatings in the lab: synthetic desert varnish

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perry, Randall S.; Kolb, Vera M.; Philip, Ajish I.; Lynne, Bridget Y.; McLoughlin, Nicola; Sephton, Mark; Wacey, David; Green, Owen R.

    2005-09-01

    Desert varnish and silica rock coatings have perplexed investigators since Humboldt and Darwin. They are found in arid regions and deserts on Earth but the mechanism of their formation remains challenging (see Perry et al. this volume). One method of researching this is to investigate natural coatings, but another way is to attempt to produce coatings in vitro. Sugars, amino acids, and silicic acid, as well as other organic and (bio)organic compounds add to the complexity of naturally forming rock coatings. In the lab we reduced the complexity of the natural components and produced hard, silica coatings on basaltic chips obtained from the Mojave Desert. Sodium silicate solution was poured over the rocks and continuously exposed to heat and/or UV light. Upon evaporation the solutions were replenished. Experiments were performed at various pH's. The micro-deposits formed were analyzed using optical, SEM-EDAX, and electron microprobe. The coatings formed are similar in hardness and composition to silica glazes found on basalts in Hawaii as well as natural desert varnish found in US southwest deserts. Thermodynamic mechanisms are presented showing the theoretical mechanisms for overcoming energy barriers that allow amorphous silica to condense into hard coatings. This is the first time synthetic silica glazes that resemble natural coatings in hardness and chemical composition have been successfully reproduced in the laboratory, and helps to support an inorganic mechanism of formation of desert varnish as well as manganese-deficient silica glazes.

  20. From Fireproof Desert to Flammable Grassland: Buffelgrass Invasion in the Sonoran Desert

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Betancourt, J. L.

    2007-12-01

    Only a few decades ago, the Sonoran Desert of northwestern Mexico and southern Arizona was considered mostly fireproof, a case of not enough fine fuel to connect the dominant shrubs and cacti. This has changed with invasions by non-native, winter annual and summer-flower perennial grasses that are rapidly transforming fireproof desert into flammable grassland. Of particular concern is buffelgrass, Pennisetum ciliare, a fire-prone and invasive African perennial grass that has already converted millions of hectares across Sonora since the mid-1960s and has made quick headway in southern and central Arizona beginning in the 1980s. Near Tucson and Phoenix, AZ, buffelgrass invasion is proceeding exponentially, with population expansion (and the costs of mitigation) more than doubling every year. As this conversion progresses, there will be increased fire risks, lost tourist revenue, diminished property values, insurmountable setbacks to conservation efforts, and the threat of large ignition fronts in desert valleys routinely spreading into the mountains. Although somewhat belated, an integrated, multi-jurisdictional effort is being organized to reduce ecological and economic impacts. My presentation will summarize the history and context of buffelgrass introduction and invasion, the disconnect in attitudes and policies across state and international boundaries, ongoing management efforts, the role of science and responsibilities of scientists, accelerated spread with changing climate, and impacts to regional ecosystems and economies. This narrative may serve as a template for other semi-arid lands where buffelgrass and similar grasses have become invasive, including Australia, South America, and many islands in the Pacific Ocean (including Hawaii), Indian Ocean, and Caribbean Sea.