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Spatially explicit decision support for selecting translocation areas for Mojave desert tortoises

Heaton, Jill S., Nussear, Kenneth E., Esque, Todd C., Inman, Richard D., Davenport, Frank M., Leuteritz, Thomas E., Medica, Philip A., Strout, Nathan W., Burgess, Paul A., Benvenuti, Lisa
Biodiversity and conservation 2008 v.17 no.3 pp. 575-590
Gopherus agassizii, decision support systems, educational institutions, habitats, models, risk reduction, threatened species, tortoises, wildlife, California, Mojave Desert
Spatially explicit decision support systems are assuming an increasing role in natural resource and conservation management. In order for these systems to be successful, however, they must address real-world management problems with input from both the scientific and management communities. The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, has expanded its training area, encroaching U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service critical habitat set aside for the Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a federally threatened species. Of all the mitigation measures proposed to offset expansion, the most challenging to implement was the selection of areas most feasible for tortoise translocation. We developed an objective, open, scientifically defensible spatially explicit decision support system to evaluate translocation potential within the Western Mojave Recovery Unit for tortoise populations under imminent threat from military expansion. Using up to a total of 10 biological, anthropogenic, and/or logistical criteria, seven alternative translocation scenarios were developed. The final translocation model was a consensus model between the seven scenarios. Within the final model, six potential translocation areas were identified.