Symposium Announcements


The scope and responsibilities of the Desert Tortoise Council just jumped by 50% due to the description of the new species Goode’s Thornscrub Tortoise, Gopherus evgoodei, from Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico by Taylor Edwards and colleagues ( The description of Morafka’s Desert Tortoise in 2011 caused quite a stir in part to Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise losing 60% of its original distribution. This brought into question the status of Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise. Now, the description of the new species may have a similar effect on the status of Morafka’s Desert Tortoise. The recognition of Goode’s Thornscrub Tortoise carves out 35% of the distribution of Morafka’s Desert Tortoise in Mexico. And Goode’s Thornscrub tortoise has the smallest distribution of all three species of the desert tortoises (43,340 km2) and it is in dire need of an assessment as to its status.

The species description is the ultimate culmination of Taylor Edward’s doctoral dissertation research. Two other essential papers document the genetic interactions of G. evgoodei and G. morafkai, one appearing in the Journal of Biogeography and the other in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

The description of the new tortoise sets the bar for patronyms, i.e. the naming of species after individuals. Eric V. Goode, who the new species is named for, is not only the founder of The Turtle Conservancy, which has raised millions of dollars for the conservation of endangered and threatened species of turtles and tortoises, he has also led the effort to procure land within the distribution of G. evgoodei in Mexico to help assure its survival. Rather than putting funding back into research, the moneys serve to maximize the likelihood of survival.

Pre-Conference Mixer: Southern Nevada Environmental Inc., or SNEI, has volunteered to sponsor and host a pre-conference mixer again this year! This event was a huge success last year as it allowed symposium attendees to socialize, network, and meet up with old friends on the night before the symposium. The event will be held on Thursday, February 18th, from 7 to 9 PM in the Red Rock Room at Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall. An open bar and food will be provided. We hope to see you there and please make sure to thank the SNEI folks for making this happen!

2016 Draft Program for the 2016 Annual Symposium: The Draft Program for the 2016 Annual Symposium is now posted. Please click Draft Program to view the document.

Please note: Problems with Sam's Town online room reservations 18 January 2016 – 1:30 PM PST — Sam's Town online room reservations service is experiencing technical difficulties. Please use the toll-free phone number 1-877-593-5993 to make your hotel reservations.

2016 proposed amendments to the DTC Bylaws: The 2016 Annual Business Meeting will include a vote by the membership on proposed amendments to the DTC Bylaws. Please click proposed amendments to view the proposed edits, presented in redline/strikeout within the context of the entire bylaws.

Please note: There is no shuttle from the airport to the hotel. Taxi service is the only option. Sam's Town suggests telling the taxi driver the quickest way is Tropicana Avenue to Boulder Hwy.

Information on Symposium raffle/auction donations is now posted. Click Symposium donation request for details. Click donation form for the raffle/auction donation form to be completed by donors.

The Desert Tortoise Council welcomes sponsorships for the Symposium. For more information on sponsorships, click Sponsorship form.

Registration for the 2016 Symposium is now open!

The next meeting of the Desert Tortoise Council Board of Directors will be the Annual Business Meeting, on February 19, 2016, held in conjunction with the Annual Symposium. The Annual Business Meeting will begin at 8:00 AM in the Virginia City Room at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, and conclude prior to the start of the symposium at 9:30 AM. Important business items to be addressed at the Annual Business Meeting include voting on proposed revisions to the bylaws and election of officers.

Last updated: 11 February, 2016

Symposium Vendors

This is our current list of vendors:

  • Greenheart Gifts. Tortoise related gift items.
  • Hector Sanchez. Tortoise wildlife oil and acrylic paintings.
  • Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, Inc.. Non-profit organization.
  • Holohil Systems Ltd. VHF transmitters from 0.22g and larger.
  • Center for Biological Diversity. Non-profit conservation organization.
  • Hardshell Labs. Hardshell devices in development (Tortoise observation rover, 3D printed tortoise models, lasers, etc.)
  • Tortoise Group, Las Vegas, NV. Information about the desert tortoise and captive care.
  • Doug Duncan (Desert Tortoise Council, Univ. of Arizona Press and Treasure Chest Books). Books for sale.

Symposium News Updates

The Desert Tortoise Council is very pleased and excited about the featured speakers and special sessions for the February 2016 Symposium. One featured speaker is Kim Stringfellow on The Mojave Project. Kim Stringfellow is a full-time resident of Joshua Tree, California, an artist and educator. She is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Photography, the 2012 recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence, an associate professor in School of Art + Design at San Diego State University, and the author of two books, Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905–2005 and Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern California Landscape, 1938–2008, both published by the Center for American Places.

Our special Saturday morning session will be on Desert Bighorn Sheep, chaired and arranged by bighorn luminary, Dr. Vern Bleich (University of Nevada, Reno). Dr. Bleich will introduce the session and discuss parallels between the bighorn sheep and tortoise conservation. Other speakers include Dr. Tom Besser (Washington State University) on respiratory diseases and disease ecology; Dr. James Cain (New Mexico State University) on habitat selection; Dr. Clint Epps (Oregon State University on habitat fragmentation, connectivity, and conservation of metapopulations; Dr. Randy Larsen (Brigham Young University, Utah) on habitat management and enhancement methods (water development, fire), and implications for conservation; Dr. Kathleen Longshore (USGS) on the urban-wildland interface, human impacts and behavioral responses; Dr. Kevin Monteith (University of Wyoming) on causes and consequences of changes in horn size; Dr. Eric Rominger (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish) on impacts of predation impacts, subsidized predators and their management; Dr. Raul Valdez (New Mexico State University) on cross-border conservation issues and conservation of bighorn sheep in Mexico, and Dr. Jericho Whiting (Brigham Young University, Idaho) on translocation strategies and implications of translocation for conservation. As you can see, we have a stellar groups of experts on topics of importance not only to bighorn sheep but to tortoises.

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