Gopher Tortoise Priority Areas of Conservation

Sep 8, 2016 (Last modified Sep 9, 2016)
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Gopher Tortoise Priority Areas of Conservation (PACs) were derived primarily from the gopher tortoise survey geodatabases from the six State Agencies within the range of the tortoise. Where robust population estimates are lacking, significant conservation areas were digitized primarily using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) layers, specifically: 1) soils specially analyzed for suitability for gopher tortoises; 2) land cover classes which meet tortoise habitat requirements; 3) highly urbanized areas; and 4) wetlands. For each state within the gopher tortoise range (listed & non-listed) the gSSURGO (Gridded SSURGO) soils layer was downloaded and joined state by state to the NRCS priority soils ranking spreadsheet. The MUKEY attribute was used to join the soils information in the spreadsheet file to the gSSURGO raster file with the same column name (MUKEY). All state gSSURGO soils layers, once joined to the tabular data, were reclassified into suitability rankings of primary, secondary, and unsuitable. The 2011 NLCD (National Landcover Database) cover product was used to identify primary and secondary gopher tortoise habitats within its entire range. NLCD classes Evergreen Forest (42) and Shrub/Scrub (52) were ranked Primary, classes Mixed Forest (43), Herbaceous (71), and Hay/Pasture (81) were ranked secondary, and all other classes ranked unsuitable. Models of primary and secondary habitats were generated by combining the soil and land cover suitability maps. Delineating the Priority Areas of Conservation was achieved by combining the habitat models with documented locations of large tortoise populations and excluding wetlands and urban areas. The initial PAC design was revised after analysis and editing by biologists from the six State Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Data Provided By:
NRCS East Working Lands For Wildlife; US Fish and Wildlife Service; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Georgia  Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Mississippi Department of Fish and Wildlife, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
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US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Division
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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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