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The Sonoran Desert Tortoise: Natural History, Biology, and Conservation [Paperback]

Thomas R. Van Devender
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Oct. 26 2006 Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Studies in Natural History
One of the most recognizable animals of the Southwest, the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) makes its home in both the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts, as well as in tropical areas to the south in Mexico. Called by Tohono O'odham people "komik'c-ed," or "shell with living thing inside," it is one of the few desert creatures kept as a domestic pet—as well as one of the most studied reptiles in the world. Most of our knowledge of desert tortoises comes from studies of Mohave Desert populations in California and Nevada. However, the ecology, physiology, and behavior of these northern populations are quite different from those of their southern, Sonoran Desert, and tropical cousins, which have been studied much less. Differences in climate and habitat have shaped the evolution of three races of desert tortoises as they have adapted to changes in heat, rainfall, and sources of food and shelter as the deserts developed in the last ten million years. This book presents the first comprehensive summary of the natural history, biology, and conservation of the Sonoran and Sinaloan desert tortoises, reviewing the current state of knowledge of these creatures with appropriate comparisons to Mohave tortoises. It condenses a vast amount of information on population ecology, activity, and behavior based on decades of studying tortoise populations in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, and also includes important material on the care and protection of tortoises. Thirty-two contributors address such topics as tortoise fossil records, DNA analysis, and the mystery of secretive hatchlings and juveniles. Tortoise health is discussed in chapters on the care of captives, and original data are presented on the diets of wild and captive tortoises, the nutrient content of plant foods, and blood parameters of healthy tortoises. Coverage of conservation issues includes husbandry methods for captive tortoises, an overview of protective measures, and an evaluation of threats to tortoises from introduced grass and wildfires. A final chapter on cultural knowledge presents stories and songs from indigenous peoples and explores their understanding of tortoises. As the only comprehensive book on the desert tortoise, this volume gathers a vast amount of information for scientists, veterinarians, and resource managers while also remaining useful to general readers who keep desert tortoises as backyard pets. It will stand as an enduring reference on this endearing creature for years to come.

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Review

New in paperback, 2006!" "Essential reading for all involved with G. agassizii, or interested in tortoise biology in general . . . This may be the most authoritative book ever written on tortoises." —Applied Herpetology

From the Inside Flap

One of the most recognizable animals of the Southwest, the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) makes its home in both the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts, as well as in tropical areas to the south in Mexico. Called by Tohono O'odham people "komik'c-ed," or "shell with living thing inside," it is one of the few desert creatures kept as a domestic pet--as well as one of the most studied reptiles in the world. Most of our knowledge of desert tortoises comes from studies of Mohave Desert populations in California and Nevada. However, the ecology, physiology, and behavior of these northern populations are quite different from those of their southern, Sonoran Desert, and tropical cousins, which have been studied much less. Differences in climate and habitat have shaped the evolution of three races of desert tortoises as they have adapted to changes in heat, rainfall, and sources of food and shelter as the deserts developed in the last ten million years. This book presents the first comprehensive summary of the natural history, biology, and conservation of the Sonoran and Sinaloan desert tortoises, reviewing the current state of knowledge of these creatures with appropriate comparisons to Mohave tortoises. It condenses a vast amount of information on population ecology, activity, and behavior based on decades of studying tortoise populations in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, and also includes important material on the care and protection of tortoises. Thirty-two contributors address such topics as tortoise fossil records, DNA analysis, and the mystery of secretive hatchlings and juveniles. Tortoise health is discussed in chapters on the care of captives, and original data are presented on the diets of wild and captive tortoises, the nutrient content of plant foods, and blood parameters of healthy tortoises. Coverage of conservation issues includes husbandry methods for captive tortoises, an overview of protective measures, and an evaluation of threats to tortoises from introduced grass and wildfires. A final chapter on cultural knowledge presents stories and songs from indigenous peoples and explores their understanding of tortoises. As the only comprehensive book on the desert tortoise, this volume gathers a vast amount of information for scientists, veterinarians, and resource managers while also remaining useful to general readers who keep desert tortoises as backyard pets. It will stand as an enduring reference on this endearing creature for years to come. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Look Out For Crows Baby Tortoise! May 26 2004
Format:Hardcover
This Book is Outta Sight! and Dy-No-Mite!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desert Tortoises Sept. 2 2013
By Lorraine M. Ambrosino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is super source of information on this interesting reptile. Well written, good illustrations, and very helpful. Thanks again to Amazon. You never let us down.
5.0 out of 5 stars Think of it as a textbook Sept. 18 2014
By K. Shaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The summary given by Amazon is entirely accurate. The work of 32 scholars went into this volume. If you're looking for a beginner's guide to tortoise care, this isn't it. However, if you want to understand the Sonoran Desert Tortoise in depth and if you aren't put off by Latin terminology, you will probably enjoy it. You are guaranteed to learn something new, as the topics cover geology, mitochondrial DNA, botany, physiology, and pathology as well as general information on the care and protection of these animals.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everthing you wanted to know and more Oct. 19 2012
By Desert Rat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after adopting a Sonoran desert tortoise. I appreciated all the information, but there is way more info than I needed. Only one chapter of the book was particularly useful, and I refer to it occasionally still. This is a very good book, but it seems more targeted to biologists than the lay reader.
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