"Decline of Desert Tortoise in Joshua Tree Linked To Long Droughts"

"In recent years, California’s Agassiz’s desert tortoise population has been decimated by shootings, residential and commercial development, vehicle traffic, respiratory disease and predation by ravens, dogs and coyotes. Now, dwindling populations of the reptiles with scruffy carapaces and skin as tough as rhino hide are facing an even greater threat: longer droughts spurred by climate change in their Sonoran Desert kingdom of arroyos and burrows, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study."

"Drought conditions are linked to declines in a population of desert tortoises in a square-mile study plot in Joshua Tree National Park, according to the study published in the online journal Biological Conservation.

The study, one of the few to examine a desert tortoise population’s response to climate change, surveyed about 1.4 generations of the species scientists know as Gopherus agassizii."

Louis Sahagun reports for the Los Angeles Times December 13, 2013.

Source: LA Times, 12/16/2013