Gopher Tortoise Conservation
In collaboration with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and with Dr. Jeff Goessling at Eckerd College we are assisting the conservation of gopher tortoises through a head-start project. We bring the eggs into the lab where we hatch them and raise the hatchling tortoises for a year before releasing them back at their mother's nest. This allows the tortoises to escape predation during the most vulnerable time of thier lives, and give them a better chance of survival when release back their natural populations.
This head-start project has two goals:
1. Aid the conservation of an Alabama population of gopher tortoises.
2. Test the effect of different head-start overwintering conditions on the tortoises growth, performance, hormone levels, genetic responses to stress, and metabolic rate to better optimize the head-start process for long-term survival and reproduction.
Collaborators and Funding
Collaborators on this project are:
Dr. Jeff Goessling from Eckerd College
Ericha Shelton-Nix, state-biologist with Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.