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Gopher Tortoise


Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Principal Biologist(s)

Magnus McCaffery

Project Location

Nonami Plantation, GA and Avalon Plantation, FL

Conservation Problem

The primary threats to gopher tortoises are habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation.  Populations have also been severely depleted by human predation.

Conservation Status

The gopher tortoise is currently state listed as threatened in Georgia and Florida, and is a candidate species for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the western portion of its range in Florida, the species is listed as threatened under the ESA

Project Goals & Objectives

Our overarching goal is to restore robust and viable gopher tortoise populations to suitable habitat at the Nonami and Avalon Plantations.

Associated with this goal, our major objectives include:

  • Determining the current gopher tortoise population size and density on each property.
  • Determining the health and disease status of the extant populations.
  • Working with state and federal agencies to augment the extant populations using translocations.
  • Establishing minimum densities of 0.4 tortoises/hectare in focal conservation areas at both  properties.
  • Ultimately establishing densities of 1 to 2 tortoises/hectare in focal conservation areas at both properties.
  • Recording recruitment of juveniles into the populations over time.
  • Conducting regular population monitoring.
  • Conducting research on gopher tortoises and their commensal species.


Project Background