DESERT TORTOISE GET REAL ESTATE MAP
A new map shows where desert tortoises could relocate if displaced by climate change or human development.
While the project didn’t turn up many surprises, it is the first real numbers-based tortoise map that is designed to adapt to changing environmental conditions. For now, the map mostly outlines where good tortoise habitats are today. Future modifications, researchers hope, will help them protect the threatened species.
“We can say, ‘OK, what do we think the 100-year climate prediction is going to look like?'” said Kenneth Nussear, a wildlife biologist with the United States Geological Service in Las Vegas. “We can make that change and redo the map and see what the future might look like for tortoises. This is the first step needed to get there. That’s where we want to go.”
Tortoises are resilient animals that have been around for millions of years. Today, the desert tortoise lives throughout the Mojave and Sonoran deserts in California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico. With development, climate change, and other human influences, researchers suspect that tortoise habitat is poised to shift. No one knows exactly