Mohave tortoise

Biodiversity key for Mojave tortoise

Mojave desert tortoises, which are in danger of extinction, have been given a new lease on life. Dr. Peter Scott of West Texas A&M University, (Agricultural & Mechanical University), has introduced other species of tortoises into a Mojave desert tortoise population to help combat disease and grow tortoise numbers.

Although many researchers gather like species together in order to get larger, more genetically diverse populations, Scott and Dr. Brad Shaffer of UCLA have been successful in effecting the reproduction rate of Mojave desert turtles while combating inbreeding. The scientists introduced other species to the Mojave populations to produce healthier tortoises when the population saw reproductive problems, & heart disease. Biodiversity has been used to breed healthier Mohave desert tortoises, who are listed as endangered in the United States, rather than just translocation. The study noted that those tortoises, who had a greater genetic inheritance, showed a 23% increase in survival rate.

The difference between some turtles, and tortoises, are that tortoises are solely found on land, do not have webbed feet, and are vegetarians. Desert tortoises can live to be as old as 80 years. They are mature sexually at 15 to 20 years, and grow to about five inches (13 cm) in size, and are approximately 10 lbs or 5 kg in weight. When reproducing their clutches are four to eight eggs. They spend most of their time in burrows in the desert to keep hydrated. They also share their homes with birds, squirrels, burrowing owls, snakes and insects. Their diet consists of grasses, herbs, cactus and flowers.

Desert tortoises are endangered by disease, development and habitat fragmentation, and illegal capture. It is unlawful to touch, or bully, wild desert tortoises, or to collect them without legal permission.

 Foxes, badgers, ravens, coyotes and roadrunners are the natural enemies of the tortoise.


Genetic diversity helps predict tortoise translocation success. (2021, January 11). The Wildlife Society.

Individual heterozygosity predicts translocation success in threatened desert tortoises. (2021). American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Study of threatened desert tortoises offer new conservation strategy. (2020, November 26).

Desert turtle. (2021, January 7). Wikipedia.

What’s the Difference Between a Turtle and a Tortoise? (2021). Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

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