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Species of the Day – Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

December 12, 2012

Species of the Day – Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Gopher tortoise is a species of the Gopherus genus native to the southeastern United States. The gopher tortoise is seen as a keystone species because it digs burrows that provide shelter for 360 other animal species.Gopher tortoises are herbivores, Their diets contains over 300 species of plants.

Since 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed Gopher tortoise as “Threatened” wherever the tortoises are found west of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Gopher tortoise is the state reptile of Georgia and the state tortoise of Florida

Gopher tortoises must declared Endangered under the Endangered Species Act, this tortoises are threatened by predation, climate change, diseases, invasive species and habitat destruction.

Conservation management of the remaining longleaf ecosystem from development and other measures such as elimination of invasive species and human predation are species conservation plan that must be implemented to save this keystone species from drastic population declines.

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