Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:    and  

General Information

Gopherus agassizii is terrestrial, with a domed shell and round, stumpy elephantine hind legs. The front limbs are flattened for digging and heavily scaled without webbed toes. The carapace (upper shell) is oblong and domed with the sides round due to joining of the carapace and plastron (lower shell). The scute centers are often yellowish which have grooved concentric rings. The plastron is also yellowish, with brown along the scute margins. The head is small and rounded in front with reddish-tan coloring and the iris being greenish-yellow. The front and hind feet are about equal in size and the tail is of short length (Behler/King, 1979).

Population detail

The FWS is currently monitoring the following populations of the Desert tortoise 

  • Population location: Entire, except AZ south and east of Colorado River, and Mexico

    Listing status:  Threatened

    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  Arizona , California , Utah
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
    • USFWS Refuges in which this population is known to occur:  Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Desert National Wildlife Range, Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge  ... Show All Refuges
    • Additional species information
  • Population location: AZ south and east of Colorado River, and Mexico, when found outside of Mexico or said range in AZ

    Listing status:  Similarity of Appearance (Threatened)

    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  Arizona
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
08/20/1980 California/Nevada Region (Region 8) Entire, except AZ south and east of Colorado River, and Mexico
04/02/1990 California/Nevada Region (Region 8) AZ south and east of Colorado River, and Mexico, when found outside of Mexico or said range in AZ

» Federal Register Documents

Federal Register Documents
Date Citation Page Title
03/06/1979 44 FR 12382 12384 Requirement to Withdraw or Supplement Proposals to Determine Various U.S. Taxa of Plants and Wildlife as Endangered or Threatened or to Determine Critical Habitat for Such Species
09/18/1985 50 FR 37958 37967 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of Review; 50 FR 37958-37967
10/13/1989 54 FR 42270 42278 ETWP; Desert Tortoise; 54 FR 42270 42278
06/10/2002 67 FR 39737 39739 Notice of Availability: Nye County Habitat Conservation Plan for Lands Conveyed at Lathrop Wells, NV
04/02/1985 50 FR 13054 13055 Notice of Findings on 4 Petitions & of Review of 1 Species; 50 FR 13054- 13055
08/23/1978 43 FR 37662 37665 Proposed Endangered Status and Critical Habitat for the Beaver Dam slope Population of the Desert Tortoise; (Gopherus agassizii)
11/02/2007 72 FR 62254 62256 Coyote Springs Investment Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan, Clark County and Lincoln County, NV, Notice of availability and receipt of application
12/07/1979 44 FR 70680 70682 ETWP; Reproposal of Critical Habitat for Two Species of Turtles
07/07/1988 53 FR 25511 25515 Findings on Pending Petitions & Description of Progress of Listing Actions; 53 FR 25511-25515
12/30/1982 47 FR 58454 58460 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
02/08/1994 59 FR 5820 5866 ETWP; Determination of Critical Habitat for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise
08/30/1993 58 FR 45748 45768 ETWP; Proposed Determination of Critical Habitat for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise
07/24/2006 71 FR 41835 41836 Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Joshua Tree Recreational Campground Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan, San Bernardino County, CA
12/29/1988 53 FR 52746 52749 Findings on Pending Petitions & Description of Progress on Listing Actions; 53 FR 52746-52749
01/06/1989 54 FR 554 579 ETWP; Animal Notice of Review; 54 FR 554 579
08/04/2008 73 FR 45236 45238 Notice of Availability of Draft Revised Recovery Plan for Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
03/09/2007 45 FR 10551 10552 Notice of Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Copper Mountain College Habitat Conservation Plan, San Bernardino, CA
05/25/2011 76 FR 30377 30382 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of Species in California, Nevada, and the Klamath Basin of Oregon
08/04/1989 54 FR 32326 32331 ETWP; Emergency Determination of Endangered Status for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise; 54 FR 32326 32331
03/10/1980 45 FR 15241 ETWP; Reproposal of Critical Habitat for the Beaver Dam slope Population of the Desert Tortoise - Public Hearing
03/05/2008 73 FR 11945 11950 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 58 Species in California and Nevada; Availability of Completed 5-Year Reviews in California, Nevada and Southern Oregon
08/23/1978 43 FR 37662 Review of the Status of the Desert Tortoise
12/05/1985 50 FR 49868 49870 Finding on Desert Tortoise Petition; 50 FR 49868-49870
07/05/2001 66 FR 35451 35452 Notice of Intent To Conduct Public Scoping and Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Regarding the Lincoln County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan
08/26/2011 76 FR 53482 53483 Notice of Availability of a Revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
11/28/2012 77 FR 71013 71015 Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Spring Mountain Raceway Expansion Project, Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada
08/20/1980 45 FR 55654 55666 ETWP; Listing as Threatened With Critical Habitat for the Beaver Dam Slope Population of the Desert Tortoise in Utah
04/02/1990 55 FR 12178 12191 ETWP; Determination of Threatened Status for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise; 55 FR 12178 12191
01/10/2005 70 FR 1737 1738 Notice of Intent to Scope for the Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit Associated with the Agua Calliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Habitat Conservation Plan, Riverside County, CA
Special Rule Publications
Date Citation Page Title
04/02/1990 55 FR 12178 12191 ETWP; Determination of Threatened Status for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise; 55 FR 12178 12191
10/13/1989 54 FR 42270 42278 ETWP; Desert Tortoise; 54 FR 42270 42278

» Recovery

Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
05/06/2011 Revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) View Implementation Progress Final Revision 1
Other Recovery Documents
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
08/04/2008 73 FR 45236 45238 Notice of Availability of Draft Revised Recovery Plan for Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
  • Notice Draft Recovery Plan Availability
08/26/2011 76 FR 53482 53483 Notice of Availability of a Revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
  • Notice Final Recovery Plan Availability
05/25/2011 76 FR 30377 30382 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of Species in California, Nevada, and the Klamath Basin of Oregon
  • Notice 5-year Review, Completion
03/05/2008 73 FR 11945 11950 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 58 Species in California and Nevada; Availability of Completed 5-Year Reviews in California, Nevada and Southern Oregon
  • Notice 5-year Review, Initiation
Five Year Review
Date Title
09/30/2010 Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise 5-Year Review

» Critical Habitat

Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
02/08/1994 59 FR 5820 5866 ETWP; Determination of Critical Habitat for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise Final Rule Final designated
08/30/1993 58 FR 45748 45768 ETWP; Proposed Determination of Critical Habitat for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise Proposed Rule Not Required
08/20/1980 45 FR 55654 55666 ETWP; Listing as Threatened With Critical Habitat for the Beaver Dam Slope Population of the Desert Tortoise in Utah Final Rule Not Required
12/07/1979 44 FR 70680 70682 ETWP; Reproposal of Critical Habitat for Two Species of Turtles Proposed Rule Not Required
08/23/1978 43 FR 37662 37665 Proposed Endangered Status and Critical Habitat for the Beaver Dam slope Population of the Desert Tortoise; (Gopherus agassizii) Proposed Rule Not Required

To learn more about critical habitat please see http://ecos.fws.gov/crithab

» Conservation Plans

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more)
HCP Plan Summaries
Cal. Dept. of Corrections Statewide Electrified Fence Project
Clark County - Desert Tortoise, Short-Term (6 permittees)
Clark County - Desert Tortoise, Short-Term, Amendment/Extension (5 permittees)
Clark County Multiple Species HCP (7 permittees)
Coachella Valley Multi-Species HCP
Copper Mountain College HCP
Corrections Corporation of America
Coyote Springs Investment Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan
Cushenbury Sand & Gravel (Channel and Basin Reclamation)
Heritage Arts Foundation
High Desert Power Project
Hyundai Motor America Test Track
Joshua Tree Campground
Kern County Waste Facilities
Lathrop Wells HCP - Low Effect
Lower Colorado River MSCP
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Plan (LCR MSCP)
Nye County Landfill
Pahrump Valley General Store Low Effect HCP
Southeastern Lincoln County HCP
Spring Mountain Raceway Expansion Low-Effect HCP (Pahrump, Nye County, NV)
Sunland Communities Inc.
U.S. Borax
Valley of Fire State Park
Washington County
Wildwash Sand & Gravel Mine, E.L. Yeager Construction
Yucca Valley Church Sites
Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA): (learn more)
CCA Plan Summaries
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area

» Petitions

» Life History

No Life History information has been entered into this system for this species.

» Other Resources

NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.