Gopher Tortoise Response to Large-scale Clearcutting in Northern Florida

A previously studied (1981-1987) gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) population in northern Florida was surveyed during May-June 1992 to determine tortoise response to large-scale timber removal (1988). Two of 3 burrow concentrations were in or near ecotones between the clearcut and older pine stands. Eighteen of 23 (78%) recaptured tortoises were found in the same general location after clearcutting as before. One female had moved 1.3 km from her previous capture location. Only 13% of all previously-marked tortoises were recaptured in 1992. Size and sex class distributions were not different before and after clearcutting. Mean clutch size of gopher tortoises following clearcutting was larger, growth rate (carapace length) was faster, and size-related gain in mass was greater than for tortoises prior to clearcutting.

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