Gopher tortoises: A keystone species
Did you know that Gopher Tortoise Day is next week on April 10? This day strives to bring awareness to this protected and threatened species in Florida in an effort to encourage their conservation. Gopher tortoises are considered a keystone species, meaning that they support other species just by being in an area. Specifically, they create burrows in upland areas that offer food and refuge for many other animals. In fact, gopher tortoises may support the existence of over 350 other species! Furthermore, if gopher tortoises disappear from an area, so will other species in the ecosystem. Due to increasing urbanization, loss of habitat, and other threats, gopher tortoises are declining throughout the state. Therefore, learning how to co-exist with these gentle, long-lived animals is vital now more than ever.
NATA workshops and native species management
Land managers throughout the state of Florida learn valuable skills at NATA workshops on topics ranging from biodiversity management, visitor management in natural areas, how to conduct a site assessment, and how to identify site-specific threats to natural resources. Each of the core NATA workshops offer insights on aspects of native species management, from understanding the threats to biodiversity in the Managing for Diversity workshop, to discovering strategies that bring multiple organizations together to seek common solutions in the Collaborating to Manage Ecosystems workshop. Now is the perfect time to learn the skills necessary to better manage for gopher tortoises in your area by taking a workshop with NATA. If you missed the deadline for a spring workshop, plan to take it next year!
We are currently in the process of transitioning to a fresher looking website, but in the meantime, feel free to check out our calendar for 2018 workshops. The best way to stay informed is to join our listserv. We only send out information about upcoming workshops, so don’t worry about your inbox getting flooded!
For more information on ways to protect gopher tortoises, visit FWC’s website here or the Gopher Tortoise Council’s website here.