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Scientists at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center study the many ecosystems of the Pacific Southwest. Follow our expeditions and projects through this outreach page, and learn more about your local landscape with our library of Outreach Factsheets and photos. Thanks for joining us!

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Viva Las Tortugas
Biologists, managers and other desert resources professionals will be gathering this weekend in Las Vegas for the 36th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium.

The setting may be Sin City, but the work is all serious. 

The Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The human and natural stressors this species faces is shared by the iconic landscapes and national parks of the California and Nevada deserts -- where urban development may be fragmenting wildlife habitats and populations; invasive plants may be unnaturally increasing wildfire frequency; and rising temperatures may be shifting shade and habitat availability.

USGS Western Ecological Research Center lead scientist Kristin Berry is this year's symposium chair, and several WERC biologists will be presenting updates on tortoise response to relocation, tortoise diseases and other research questions. USGS research findings will help local, state and federal stakeholders craft resource policies that balance land use and energy needs with ecosystem services needs.

For a schedule of WERC presentations at this weekend's symposium, see: 

Learn more about the desert tortoise in this Q&A with Dr. Berry:

Watch this segment on the USGS YouTube Channel about desert tortoise research:

WERC embedded video should be here. You may not have a browser with enabled video embedding.

-- Ben Young Landis

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