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1 December 2014 Follow-Up Demographic Survey of a Florida Gopher Tortoise Population
Joan E. Diemer Berish, Erin Hoerl Leone
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Abstract

In 1995, we surveyed a previously studied (1982–1986) northern Florida population of Gopherus polyphemus (Gopher Tortoise) to document demographic changes that may have occurred over time. The sandhill study site had been unburned for approximately 8 years, resulting in increased woody midstory and decreased herbaceous groundcover. We captured 88 Gopher Tortoises in pitfall traps during May—June 1995. Eighteen (20%) of the tortoises had been previously marked; only 11% of 169 marked tortoises were recaptured. Gopher Tortoise distribution appeared to be more clumped in 1995, and density had declined by about half, likely due to habitat degradation associated with fire exclusion. Size- and sex-class distribution and clutch size were not significantly different between the two study periods. In 1995, the smallest female with detected shelled eggs had 11 plastral annuli and a carapace length of 225 mm. Habitat degradation, whether on private or public lands, is an ongoing problem for this species.

Joan E. Diemer Berish and Erin Hoerl Leone "Follow-Up Demographic Survey of a Florida Gopher Tortoise Population," Southeastern Naturalist 13(4), 639-648, (1 December 2014). https://doi.org/10.1656/058.013.0401
Published: 1 December 2014
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