You are here » home advanced search Gopherus agassizii

Gopherus agassizii (COOPER, 1861)

IUCN Red List - Gopherus agassizii - Vulnerable, VU

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Gopherus agassizii?

Add your own observation of
Gopherus agassizii »

Find more photos by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaTestudinidae, Testudinoidea, 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.  
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).

Genome: A draft genome and transcriptome has been published by Tollis et al. 2017. 
EtymologyNamed after Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), Swiss zoologist. See Bastos & Sa 2011 for further biographical details. 
  • Akeret, Beat 2015. Reptilien und Sukkulenten Draco 16 (62): 21-27
  • Allison, Linda J. and Ann M. McLuckie 2018. Population Trends in Mojave Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) Herp. Cons. Biol. 13 (2): 433–452 - get paper here
  • Anderson, K & Berry, K H; 2019. Gopherus agassizii (Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise) Predation Herpetological Review 50 (2): 351
  • Auffenberg W; Franz R 1978. Gopherus agassizii (Cooper). Desert tortoise. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 212: 1-2 - get paper here
  • 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 15 (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
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Berry, K.H. & Murphy, R.W. 2019. Gopherus agassizii (Cooper 1861) – Mojave Desert Tortoise, Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., van Dijk, P.P., Stanford, C.B., Goode, E.V., Buhlmann, K.A., Pritchard, P.C.H., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise
  • Berry, Kristin H., Shields, Tim and Jacobson, Elliott R. 2016. Gopherus agassizii (Mohave Desert Tortoise) Probable rattlesnake envenomation Herpetological Review 47 (4): 652-653 - get paper here
  • Berry, Kristin H.; Julie L. Yee, Ashley A. Coble, William M. Perry, and Timothy A. Shields 2013. Multiple Factors Affect a Population of Agassiz's Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in the Northwestern Mojave Desert. Herpetological Monographs 27 (1): 87-109 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Bonin, F., Devaux, B. & Dupré, A. 2006. Turtles of the World. English translation by P.C.H. Pritchard. Johns Hopkins University Press, 416 pp.
  • Brennan, I. G. 2012. Gopherus agassizii (Mojave desert tortoise) diet. Herpetological Review 43: 638-639
  • Bruekers, Jaco 2004. In der sporen van de Amerikaanse Woestijnschildpad, Gopherus agassizii (Cooper 1863). Lacerta 62 (5): 198-2005 - get paper here
  • Cooper, J,G. 1861. New Californian Animals. Proc. California Acad. Vol. 2: 118-123 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Crumly, C. R. 1994. Phylogenetic systematics of North American tortoises (genus Gopherus): evidence for their classification. Fish and Wildlife Research 13: 7-32
  • Crumly, C. R. & Grismer, L.L. 1994. Validity of the tortoise Xerobates lepidocephalus OTTLEY and VELAZQUES in Baja California. Fish and Wildlife Research 13: 33-37
  • Currylow, Andrea, Andrew D. Walde and Angela M. Walde. 2016. Gopherus agassizii (Mojave Desert Tortoise) and Coluber flagellum piceus (Red Racer) Burrow associates. Herpetological Review 47 (1): 122-123 - get paper here
  • Curtin, A.J.; G.R. Zug; J.R. Spotila 2009. Longevity and growth strategies of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in two American deserts. Journal of Arid Environments 73: 463–471
  • 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
  • Daly, Jacob A.; Kurt A. Buhlmann, Brian D. Todd, Clinton T. Moore, J. Mark Peaden, and Tracey D. Tuberville 2018. Comparing Growth and Body Condition of Indoor-reared, Outdoor-reared, and Direct-released Juvenile Mojave Desert Tortoises Herp. Cons. Biol. 13 (3): 622–633 - get paper here
  • Drake, K. K., Medica, P. A., Esque, T. C. & Nussear, K. E. 2012. Gopherus agassizii (Agassiz's desert tortoise) scute dysecdysis / scute sloughing. Herpetological Review 43: 473-474
  • 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
  • Ernst,C.H. and Barbour,R.W. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. - London
  • FLESCH, AARON D.; DON E. SWANN, DALE S. TURNER, AND BRIAN F. POWELL 2010. HERPETOFAUNA OF THE RINCON MOUNTAINS, ARIZONA. Southwestern Naturalist 55(2):240–253 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Hardy, L.M., & McDiarmid, R.W. 1969. The amphibians and reptiles of Sinaloa, Mexico. Univ. Kansas Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. 18 (3): 39-252. - get paper here
  • 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
  • Henderson, R. A., S. R. Puffer and J. E. Lovich 2016. Gopherus agassizii (Mohave Desert Tortoise) nest depredation. Herpetological Review 47(3): 446-447. - get paper here
  • Jeremy S. Mack, Heather E. Schneider, and Kristin H. Berry 2018. Crowding Affects Health, Growth, and Behavior in Headstart Pens for Agassiz's Desert Tortoise Chelonian Conservation and Biology Jun 2018, Vol. 17, No. 1: 14-26. - 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.
  • Legler, J.M.& Vogt, R.C. 2013. The Turtles of Mexico: Land and Freshwater Forms. University of California Press, 416 pp.
  • Llamas, Macario; Christina La Croix, Elizabeth Williams, and William Perry Baker 2017. Hematological values in captive Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) from Maricopa County, Arizona. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 24 (3): 187–190 - get paper here
  • Lovich, Jeffrey E. 2011. Gopherus agassizii (desert tortoise) and Crotalus ruber (red diamond rattlesnake) burrow co-occupancy. Herpetological Review 42 (3): 421 - get paper here
  • Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Joshua R. Ennen, Charles B. Yackulic, Kathie Meyer-Wilkins, Mickey Agha, Caleb Loughran, Curtis Bjurlin, Meaghan Austin and Sheila Madrak 2015. Not putting all their eggs in one basket: bet-hedging despite extraordinary annual reproductive output of desert tortoises. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 115 (2): 399–410, DOI: 10.1111/bij.12505 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Martin, B. 1996. The Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in a desert grassland community in southern Arizona. Sonoran Herpetologist 9 (4):31-35. - 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 1932. Notes on the desert tortoise (Testudo agassizii). Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 7 (18): 187-208 + 2 plates - get paper here
  • Miller, Loye 1955. Further observations on the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizi, of California. Copeia 1955 (2): 113-118 - get paper here
  • Mitelberg, Anna; Amy G. Vandergast, Ken E. Nussear, Kirsten Dutcher & Todd C. Esque 2019. Development of a Genotyping Protocol for Mojave Desert Tortoise Scat Chelonian Conservation and Biology Dec 2019 Vol. 18, No. 2: 123-132 - get paper here
  • Moll, D. 2008. Dietary characteristics and seed germination influences of Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in a very wet year (1998) in northeastern Sonoran Desert. Sonoran Herpetologist 21 (8):86-89. - get paper here
  • Moll, E.O. 2004. Gopherus agassizi (Cooper, 1863) – Desert Tortoise. Patronyms of the Pioneer West. Sonoran Herpetologist 17 (5):50-53. - 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, R.W. 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. Sonoran Herpetologist 24 (7):71-72. - 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
  • Ottley, John R.; Solis, Victor M. Velazques 1989. An Extant, Indigenous Tortoise Population in Baja California Sur, Mexico, with the Description of a New Xerobates (Chelonii: Testudinidae). Great Basin Naturalist 49 (4): 496 - get paper here
  • Peterson, Charles C. 1994. Different rates and causes of high mortality in two populations of the threatened desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii. Biological Conservation 70 (2): 101-108
  • Riedle, J. Daren, Roy C. Averill-Murray, Clayton L. Lutz and Darren K. Bolen. 2008. Habitat Use by Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) on Alluvial Fans in the Sonoran Desert, South-Central Arizona. Copeia 2008 (2): 414-420 - get paper here
  • Riedle, J. Daren; Roy C. Averill-Murray, and David D. Grandmaison 2010. Seasonal Variation in Survivorship and Mortality of Desert Tortoises in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona. Journal of Herpetology 44 (1): 164–167 - get paper here
  • Smith, Amanda L., Laura A. Tennant and Terence R. Arundal. 2015. Gopherus agassizii (Agassiz's desert tortoise) mechanical injury. Herpetological Review 46 (3): 423-424 - get paper here
  • Spencely, Ashley, Jeremy Mack and Kristin H. Berry. 2015. Gopherus agassizii (Agassiz's desert tortoise) attempted predation. Herpetological Review 46 (3): 422-423 - get paper here
  • Stebbins,R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Stejneger, L.H. 1893. Annotated list of the reptiles and batrachians collected by the Death Valley Expedition in 1891, with descriptions of new species. North American Fauna, No. 7: 159-228 (+ 14 plates + 4 maps) - get paper here
  • Taylor, Edward Harrison 1938. Notes on the herpetological fauna of the Mexican state of Sonora. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 24 (19): 475-503 [1936] - get paper here
  • Thomson, Robert C.; Andrew M. Shedlock, Scott V. Edwards and H. Bradley Shaffer 2008. Developing markers for multilocus phylogenetics in non-model organisms: A test case with turtles. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49 (2): 514-525 - get paper here
  • Tollis M, DeNardo DF, Cornelius JA, Dolby GA, Edwards T, Henen BT, et al. 2017. The Agassiz’s desert tortoise genome provides a resource for the conservation of a threatened species. PLoS One 12 (5): e0177708. - get paper here
  • TTWG [Peter Paul van Dijk, John B. Iverson, Anders G.J. Rhodin, H. Bradley Shaffer, and Roger Bour] 2014. Turtles of the World, 7th Edition: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution with Maps, and Conservation Status. 000.v7. Chelonian Research Monographs (ISSN 1088-7105) No. 5, doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v7.2014 - get paper here
  • Turner, Frederick B.;Wauer, Roland H. 1963. A survey of the herpetofauna of the Death Valley area. Great Basin Naturalist 23 (3-4): 119-128 - get paper here
  • Valencia, J. H., K. Garzón-Tello & M. E. Barragán-Paladines 2016. Serpientes venenosas del Ecuador: sistemática, taxonomía, historia natural, conservación, envenenamiento y aspectos antropológicos. Quito, Ecuador, Fundación Herpetológica Gustavo Orcés, Universidad de Texas, Fondo Ambiental Nacional, 652 pp. [review in HR 49 (1): 152, 2018]
  • Vlachos, E. and Rabi, M. 2018. Total evidence analysis and body size evolution of extant and extinct tortoises (Testudines: Cryptodira: Pan-Testudinidae). Cladistics 34: 652–683, doi:10.1111/cla.12227 - get paper here
  • Walde, A D; Jones, C & Trageser, S 2018. Gopherus agassizii (Mohave Desert Tortoise) Burrow associate Herpetological Review 49 (2): 318-319 - get paper here
  • Walde, Andrew D. 2014. TSA teams up with the Marines for Desert Tortoise research. Turtle Survival 2014: 55-56 - get paper here
  • Walde, Andrew D., Angela M. Walde and A. Peter Woodman. 2016. Gopherus agassizii (Mojave Desert Tortoise) Burrow associate. Herpetological Review 47 (1): 121-122 - get paper here
  • Walde, Andrew D., Meagan L. Harless, David K. Delaney and Larry L. Pater. 2006. Gopherus agassizii Diet. Herpetological Review 37 (1): 77-78 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Walde, Angela M., Andrew D. Walde and Charlie Jones. 2014. Gopherus agassizii (Mohave Desert tortoise) and Crotalus mitchelli (speckled rattlesnake) burrow associate. Herpetological Review 45 (4): 688 - get paper here
  • Webster, Timothy H.; Greer A. Dolby, Melissa Wilson Sayres, Kenro Kusumi 2017. Improved draft of the Mojave Desert tortoise genome, Gopherus agassizii, version 1.1 PeerJ Preprints - get paper here
  • Werning, Heiko 2012. Die Reptilien und Amphibien des Südwestens. Draco 13 (50): 18-60 - get paper here
  • Wilson, D.S. et al. 2003. Estimating age of turtles from growth rings: a critical evaluation of the technique. Herpetologica 59 (2): 178-194 - get paper here
  • Winchell, S. 2006. Tortoises of North America - an overview of the genus Gopherus. Reptilia (GB) (49): 9-15 - get paper here
  • Winchell, S. & Love, B. 2006. Die Landschildkröten Nordamerikas. Ein Überblick über die Gattung Gopherus. Reptilia (Münster) 11 (62): 20-27 - get paper here
  • Wirt, B. 2011. Desert Tortoise - Gopherus agassizii. Sonoran Herpetologist 24 (6):56-58. - get paper here
  • Woodbury, Angus Munn;Hardy, Ross 1948. Studies of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii. Ecological Monographs 18 (2): 146-200
External links  
Is it interesting? Share with others:

Please submit feedback about this entry to the curator