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Estimating the probability of illegal desert tortoise collection in the Sonoran Desert

Authors

  • David D. Grandmaison,

    Corresponding author
    1. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Wildlife Contracts Branch, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Research Branch, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086, USA.
    • Arizona Game and Fish Department, Wildlife Contracts Branch, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086, USA.
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  • Vincent J. Frary

    1. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Wildlife Contracts Branch, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Henry Campa III.

Abstract

The expansion of road networks in desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) habitat in the Sonoran Desert has raised questions concerning appropriate mitigation to reduce impacts at the population level. Although some effects, namely road-kill and habitat loss, have been well documented, illegal tortoise collection has been insufficiently addressed. It has become increasingly important for wildlife and land-use managers to understand the cumulative impacts of roads on tortoises and the effect that those impacts have on population persistence. We estimated the probability of desert tortoise detection and collection along 2-lane paved, maintained gravel, and non-maintained gravel roads to evaluate whether collection probabilities were related to road type. Although collection probability did not vary by road type, the probability of desert tortoise detection by passing motorists was greatest on maintained gravel roads and fewest on non-maintained gravel and paved roads. These results have implications for effectively mitigating the impacts of roads on desert tortoises. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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