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Gopherus agassizii (COOPER, 1861)

IUCN Red List - Gopherus agassizii - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaTestudinidae, Testudines (turtles) 
Common NamesAgassiz’s Desert Tortoise, (Californian) Desert Tortoise 
SynonymXerobates agassizii COOPER 1861
Testudo agassizii — BOULENGER 1889
Gopherus agassizii — STEJNEGER 1893
Gopherus polyphemus agassizii — MERTENS & WERMUTH 1955
Gopherus agassizii — STEBBINS 1985: 104
Xerobates lepidocephalus OTTLEY & VELÁZQUES SOLIS 1989
Gopherus agassizii — LINER 1994
Gopherus agassizii — CROTHER 2000
Gopherus agassizii — TTWG 2014 
DistributionUSA (S Nevada, SW California, W Arizona, New Mexico),
Mexico (N Baja California, W Sonora including Tiburon Island in the Gulf of California, NW Sinaloa)

Xerobates lepidocephalus: Sierra San Vincente region, approx. 1.5 km north of the Buena Mujer Dam, 20 km (by air) south of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Type locality: mountains near Fort Mojave, California. Restricted to “California, San Bernardino County; Mountains of California, near Fort Mojave; Soda Valley (very approximately 35° 6' N, 116° 6' W), by MURPHY et al. 2011. Map legend:
Type locality - Type locality.
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
ReproductionGopherus agassizii can hybridize with Gopherus berlandieri (Edwards et al. 2010). 
TypesLectotype: USNM 7888 (designated by MURPHY et al. 2011)
Holotype: BYU 39706 [G. lepidocephalus] 
CommentThe date of publication is 1861, rather than 1863 (MURPHY et al. 2011). 
EtymologyNamed after Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), Swiss zoologist. See Bastos & Sa 2011 for further biographical details. 
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  • Auffenberg, W., & Franz, R. 1978. Gopherus Rafinesque: gopher tortoises. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (211): 1-2 [species accounts in nos. 212-215] - get paper here
  • Averill-Murray, Roy C. and Bridgette E. Hagerty 2014. Translocation Relative to Spatial Genetic Structure of the Mojave Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii. Chelonian Conservation and Biology Jul 2014, Vol. 13, No. 1: 35-41. - get paper here
  • Barrows, Cameron W.; Brian T. Henen, and Alice E. Karl 2016. Identifying Climate Refugia: A Framework to Inform Conservation Strategies for Agassiz's Desert Tortoise in a Warmer Future Chelonian Conservation and Biology Jun 2016, Vol. 15, No. 1: 2-11. - get paper here
  • Bastos, Francisco Inácio & Magali Romero Sa 2011. The scientist as historian: Paulo Vanzolini and the origins of zoology in Brazil. História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro 18 (4): 1021-1038
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  • Berry, Kristin H.; Lisa M. Lyren, Julie L. Yee, and Tracy Y. Bailey 2014. Protection Benefits Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) Abundance: The Influence of Three Management Strategies on a Threatened Species. Herpetological Monographs, 28: 66-92 - get paper here
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  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
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  • Curtin, Amanda J.; , George R. Zug,, Philip A. Medica, James R. Spotila 2008. Assessing age in the desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii: testing skeletochronology with individuals of known age. Endang Species Res 5 : 21-27
  • Edwards, T.; Jarchow, C.J.; Jones, C.A. & Bonine, K.E. 2010. Tracing Genetic Lineages of Captive Desert Tortoises in Arizona. Journal of Wildlife Management 74(4):801–807;]
  • Ennen, Joshua R.; Jeffrey E. Lovich, Katherin P. Meyer, Curtis Bjurlin, and Terence R. Arundel 2012. Nesting Ecology of a Population of Gopherus agassizii at a Utility-Scale Wind Energy Facility in Southern California. Copeia 2012 (2): 222-228. - get paper here
  • Ernst, Carl H.; Lovich, Jeffrey E. 2009. Turtles of the United States and Canada, 2nd edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, 827 pp. - get paper here
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  • Hagerty, B.E.; Peacock, M.M.; Kirchoff, V.S. & Tracy, C.R. 2008. Polymorphic microsatellite markers for the Mojave desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii. Molecular Ecology Resources 8: 1149–1151
  • Hazard, Lisa C.; Danielle R. Shemanski, and Kenneth A. Nagy 2010. Nutritional Quality of Natural Foods of Juvenile and Adult Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii): Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium Digestibility. Journal of Herpetology 44 (1): 135–147 - get paper here
  • Lamb, Trip;Avise, John C.;Gibbons, J. Whitfield 1989. Phylogeographic patterns in mitochondrial DNA of the desert tortoise (Xerobates agassizi), and evolutionary relationships among the North American gopher tortoises. Evolution 43 (1): 76-87 - get paper here
  • Lamb, Trip;Lydeard, Charles 1994. A molecular phylogeny of the gopher tortoises, with comments on familial relationships within the Testudinoidea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 3 (4): 283-291 - get paper here
  • Laufer, Peter 2013. The accidental tortoise: A threatened species clashes with "Green" energy. The Tortoise 1 (2): 46-55.
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  • Mack, Jeremy S.; Kristin H. Berry, David M. Miller, and Andrea S. Carlson 2015. Factors Affecting the Thermal Environment of Agassiz's Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) Cover Sites in the Central Mojave Desert during Periods of Temperature Extremes Journal of Herpetology Sep 2015, Vol. 49, No. 3: 405-414. - get paper here
  • McCord, W.P. & Joseph-Ouni, M. 2004. Chelonian Illustrations #14: North and South American Tortoises. Reptilia (GB) (34): 47-50 - get paper here
  • McLuckie, Ann M.;Lamb, Trip;Schwalbe, Cecil R.;McCord, Robert D. 1999. Genetic and morphometric assessment of an unusual tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) population in the Black Mountains of Arizona. Journal of Herpetology 33 (1): 36-44 - get paper here
  • Medica, Philip A.; Kenneth E. Nussear, Todd C. Esque, and Mary B. Saethre 2012. Long-Term Growth of Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in a Southern Nevada Population. Journal of Herpetology 46 (2): 213-220. - get paper here
  • Miller, Loye 1955. Further observations on the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizi, of California. Copeia 1955 (2): 113-118 - get paper here
  • Moskovits, D. K. 1988. Sexual dimorphism and population estimates of the two Amazonian tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria and Geochelone denticulata) in northwestern Brasil. Herpetologica 44 (2): 209-217 - get paper here
  • Murphy, Robert W.;Kristin H. Berry, Taylor Edwards, Alan E. Leviton, Amy Lathrop, J. Daren Riedle 2011. The dazed and confused identity of Agassiz’s land tortoise, Gopherus agassizii (Testudines, Testudinidae) with the description of a new species, and its consequences for conservation. ZooKeys 113: 39–71; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.113.1353 - get paper here
  • Murray, Roy C.;Schwalbe, Cecil R.;Bailey, Scott J.;Cuneo, S. Peder;Hart, Scott D. 1996. Reproduction in a population of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, in the Sonoran Desert. Herpetological Natural History 4 (1): 83-88
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  • Walde, Andrew D.; Andrea Currylow 2015. Gopherus agassizii (Mojave Desert Tortoise) and Coleonyx variegatus variegatus (Desert Banded Gecko). Spring Burrow Cohabitation. Herpetology Notes 8: 501-502 - get paper here
  • Walde, Andrew D.; Andrea Currylow, Angela M. Walde 2015. Discovery of a new burrow associate of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), the Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Herpetology Notes 8: 107-109 - get paper here
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