World Turtle News, 05/17/2017
Female Gopherus agassizii May be Insuring Species Survival at the Cost of Their Lives
Joshua Tree National Park is a haven for numerous Gopherus agassizii, which continue to successfully reproduce year after year, despite a progressively severe drought. Recently a concerning number of deceased females have been discovered within the park, and biologists are working to determine the cause of this unusual die-off. Jeffey Lovich, a renowned U.S. Geological Survey biologist has proposed an interesting hypothesis. He suggests that the female tortoises have been utilizing precious water and energy stores in order to produce clutches of eggs even during less than ideal conditions; consequently, they are sacrificing their lives for the benefit of their hatchlings, and simultaneously insuring the survival of the species. Approximately two decades will be required to assess the success of this hypothesis, due to the fact that the rate of maturity is so slow in this species.
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Did You Know…
You should never pick up a wild tortoise, due to the fact that it will urinate and eliminate all the stored water inside its body. Who knows when they will have the opportunity to replenish these water stores again.
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Photo from Irfan Khan.