Texas Tortoise Monitoring

Texas tortoise monitoring at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park
Radio tracking of Texas tortoise, to supplement long-term monitoring at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.

NPS/Billy Finney

The Texas tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri) is an unusual and little-studied reptile of thornscrub habitats in southern Texas. This species is designated as a threatened in the state of Texas, although in portions of its range, it can be fairly abundant. The population at the park appears to be sizable but is challenged by geographic isolation and habitat fragmentation. Further, some of the park's thornscrub is under consideration for replacement with the historical grassland habitat. For these reasons, Texas tortoise monitoring is a high-priority vital sign for the Gulf Coast Network. Long-term monitoring data will help park managers find the best way to manage and protect tortoises and their habitats.

The complete background, rationale and procedures for Texas tortoise monitoring by the network are described in a protocol narrative and 9 standard operating procedure (SOP) documents. The protocol is titled "Gulf Coast Network Texas Tortoise Monitoring in Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park." It will be published in the NPS Natural Resource Report Series in late 2018, at which time it will be made available to the public. A summary of the vital sign and monitoring approach can also be found in the 2-page brief: Texas Tortoise Monitoring Program Summary.

Left: field crew travelling to sampling site; Center: crew member searching for tortoises; Right: Texas tortoise
Left: field crew travelling to sampling site; Center: crew member searching for tortoises; Right: Texas tortoise

Photos by Chris Adams (left and center) and Billy Finney (right)

Texas Tortoise Project Documents and Data

Source: Data Store Saved Search 3487 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

The rear end of a Texas tortoise, hidden under dead yucca leaves
A Texas tortoise hiding under dead yucca leaves. This tortoise was included in a special, short-term project where a subset of tortoises were tagged with radio transmitters and tracked once per month to better understand their habitat uses and preferences

Jane Carlson/NPS

a large texas tortoise being held by a gloved hand
A large male Texas tortoise being held by a gloved hand, prior to having its weight and carapace dimensions measured.

GULN/NPS

Last updated: September 19, 2018