The Desert Tortoise Council has put together an exciting and substantive program with many new faces and topics, as well as several returning scientists and government people. Sessions include presentations on translocation, head-starting and augmentation of populations, health and disease, genetics, and several other subjects. Managers and wildlife biologists from government will present recent and future recovery efforts undertaken by their agencies on behalf of the desert tortoise.
One highlight will be the Saturday morning session on Special and Sensitive Species Occurring in Desert Tortoise Habitats. The Council is very pleased to present six scientific experts who will describe relevant research on birds, reptiles, and mammals. Jon Sauer, a nationally recognized expert in birds from the USGS, Patuxent, Maryland, tracks long-term status and trends in U.S. populations. He will discuss trends in songbird populations in the Southwest. Tom Albright from the University of Nevada at Reno will describe his research on effects of climate warming on selected species of birds in the Southwest. Courtney Conway from the University of Idaho has conducted research throughout the West on burrowing owls; he will discuss his findings. Andrew Jones of the Arizona Game and Fish has recently published a paper on effects of off-highway vehicle road networks on kit fox and will tell us of his findings. Phil Leitner, the senior expert on the rare, threatened, and endemic Mohave ground squirrels, will share a lifetime of research on this western Mojave species. And Dale Denardo of Arizona State University and a well-known gila monster expert, will return to describe his recent work on gila monsters.
Dr. Abella will be talking about fire science, habitat restoration, and of course desert tortoise ecology. Dr. Abella is also the director of the Mojave and Sonoran Desert region of the California Fire Science Consortium.