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Data from: Predicting translocation outcomes with personality for desert tortoises

Cite this dataset

Germano, Jennifer M. et al. (2017). Data from: Predicting translocation outcomes with personality for desert tortoises [Dataset]. Dryad.


As mitigation- and conservation-driven translocations of declining species escalate, establishing best practices for conservation practitioners is critical. A variety of factors, such as individual behaviour, may influence post-release behaviour and survival. Here, we explored the role of individual personality in predicting post-translocation survival and behaviour in juvenile desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii). Using an experimental design with captive tortoises, we found that individual tortoises displayed clear personalities along bold-shy and investigative or exploratory continuums. Following release, personality correlated with burrow use and survival in the wild. Individuals with more exploratory personalities were encountered in burrows more often and experienced higher survival. Among the variables analysed, burrow use was also one of the strongest predictors of survival. Thus, we infer that exploratory tortoises were more likely to find and use refugia, which was beneficial to translocated tortoises. Dispersal after release was unrelated to personality, although males dispersed farther than females. Strikingly, females experienced a rate of mortality that was almost twice that of males, with no measured size differences between the sexes. We conclude that desert tortoise do have personalities which can influence survival following translocation, but which have limited implications for post-release dispersal.

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