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Ken Nussear

   Research Wildlife Biologist

Ken Nussear
Las Vegas Field Station
160 N. Stephanie Street
Henderson, NV 89074
Phone: (702) 564-4515
Fax: (702) 564-4600
Ken Nussear

I am generally interested in the physiological ecology of desert ectotherms, especially desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). In particular, I am interested in how the interactions of environmental and physiological constraints define the ecology of these animals. Because of the severe conditions and low resources associated with the desert environment, selective pressures tend to produce interesting adaptations. Many factors may be acting simultaneously to influence the natural distributions of these animals. These environmental factors may include: the biophysical environment, elevational limitations, local precipitation, forage availability, the composition of the substratum, and many others. This may create limitations when the animal is further constrained within a limited range of existing available habitat.

The results of this interaction may be expressed by a reduction of available habitat to an actual useable habitat. This may be critical when constructing conservation schemes for rare and endangered species. Allocation of habitat may be of no benefit if it is not within the parameters set by the combination of the tolerances of the animal and its interaction with the environment. Additionally, other aspects of the biology of the animal that maylimit their distributions includine: the range of acceptable temperatures (and other tolerance related attributes of the animal), the thermoregulatory behavior of the species, the locomotory ability of the species at each stage of its existence, shelter requirements, nutritional requirements, etc. A basic understanding of each of these may help to better assess useable habitat which can be applied to conservation strategies.


  • Ph.D., Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology, University of Nevada, Reno 2004
  • B.S., Zoology - Summa cum laude, Colorado State University 1994

  • Research Herpetologist, USGS, BRD, Western Ecological Research Center, 2004 to Present

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