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The following schedule is subject to change (as of October 11, 2016). Please check back for updates. For more information about this meeting, go to: www.seafwa.org/conferences/2016
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Tuesday, October 18 • 8:20am - 8:40am
Wildlife. Effects of habitat management and soil suitability categories for gopher tortoises on forage nutrients in south Mississippi

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AUTHORS: B. Nicole Hodges, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Mississippi State University; Jeanne C. Jones, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Mississippi State University; Michael S. Cox, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences Mississippi State University; Lisa Y. Yager, USDA Forest Service; Bruce D. Leopold, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Mississippi State University; Matthew G. Hinderliter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Michael K. Crosby, Department of Natural Science Shorter University; Kathy R. Shelton, MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

ABSTRACT: Populations of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Mississippi exhibit limited recruitment despite recovery efforts implemented since federal listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1987.  In 2008, mortality associated with metabolic bone disease was detected in juvenile gopher tortoises in south Mississippi. We theorized that skeletal malformations in these tortoises were potentially linked to nutritional deficiencies.  Forage quality can play a role in reproductive success and growth rates of tortoises, thus, we investigated calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels in tortoise forage plants and effects of habitat management and soil suitability classes on nutrient levels in 11 plant growth forms. In forage samples collected during summers of 2012 – 2013 across all plant growth forms (N = 1,590), cacti exhibited greatest levels of the four nutrients, and forbs exhibited the next greatest levels of calcium and potassium (P < 0.01).  Forage samples exhibited greatest levels of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in mowed areas compared to areas that were burned (P < 0.01).  A greater understanding of nutrient content within different plant growth forms will allow biologists to better assess plant community characteristics related to nutritional quality available to gopher tortoises. Also, greater knowledge of forage quality existing on different soil types under varying habitat management regimes can be useful in planning and implementing gopher tortoise habitat management and restoration. 

Tuesday October 18, 2016 8:20am - 8:40am
Riverview B

Attendees (8)