WEA Biologist Discusses Gopher Tortoise Research at ALAPARC Annual Meeting

Chance Gwaltney, Biologist with Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA), gave a presentation at the recent 10th Annual meeting of the Alabama Chapter of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ALAPARC) held at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama from November 1-3. His presentation, co-authored by WEA President Austin Carroll, provided an update of the research on the Apalachicola National Forest (ANF) Gopher Tortoise Research and Restoration Area (GTRR).

The ANF GTRR is the result of an innovative Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Forest Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida, and WEA. This MOU couples gopher tortoise population restoration efforts with a formal research study. Mr. Gwaltney and Mr. Carrol, respectively, serve as the Field Research Coordinator and Program Manager for this FWC-approved gopher tortoise recipient site managed by WEA. The ANF GTRR research evaluates site fidelity response of the relocated tortoises (once their temporary enclosures are removed) related to silvicultural management practices (e.g., thinning, burning, and/or herbicide). Relocated tortoises are tracked using radio transmitters to follow their movements within the ANF site. The ANF GTRR accepts tortoises donated from across Florida and has translocated approximately 2,000 tortoises since its inception. Mr. Gwaltney also discussed preliminary results and observations from the field work.
The national Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC; www.parcplace.org) organization is an inclusive partnership dedicated to the conservation of herpetofauna–reptiles and amphibians–and their habitats. PARC is the most comprehensive conservation effort ever undertaken for amphibians and reptiles. The mission of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) is to forge proactive partnerships to conserve amphibians, reptiles and the places they live. Our ultimate vision is of a society where amphibians and reptiles are valued for their importance in our natural and cultural heritage and are considered in all conservation and land management decisions. ALAPARC (www.alaparc.org), a chapter of the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (SEPARC; www.separc.org), includes scientists, naturalists, government representatives and citizens that are devoted to the preservation of amphibian and reptile populations in the southeastern United States.