Habitat drives dispersal and survival of translocated juvenile desert tortoises

  • Published source details Nafus M.G., Esque T.C., Averill-Murray R.C., Nussear K.E. & Swaisgood R.R. (2017) Habitat drives dispersal and survival of translocated juvenile desert tortoises. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54, 430-438.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Release captive-bred reptiles into the wild: Tortoises, terrapins, side-necked & softshell turtles

    A replicated study in 2014–2015 in four desert scrub vegetation sites in Nevada, USA (Nafus et al. 2017) found that more than half of released captive-bred juvenile Mojave desert tortoises Gopherus agassizzii survived at least six months and settled into home ranges within two months of release. Six months to one year after release, 53 of 80 (66%) released captive-bred juvenile desert tortoises were still alive. The authors reported that of 25 known tortoise deaths, 14 were due to starvation or exposure, and the remaining 11 showed signs of predation or scavenging. Overall, 46 of 71 (65%) desert tortoises settled into a home range pattern within two weeks, all 71 had settled within two months, and nine died before establishing a home range. In September 2014 and April 2015, eighty desert tortoises were hatched and reared in captivity (ages ranged from 6 months to 4 years) and released into four different locations in the Mojave Desert (19–21 tortoises released/locations). Tortoises were released at least 20 m apart and radio tracked weekly during March–October and every two weeks during November–February from release until September 2015. Two tortoises lost their transmitters and were excluded from survival numbers.

    (Summarised by: Katie Sainsbury)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust