The Gopher Tortoises of Cumberland Island - Is Beach Life All It's Cracked Up To Be?

Jacksonville University
Jacksonville, Florida
DOI: 10.18258/9325
Raised of $2,000 Goal
Funded on 6/07/17
Successfully Funded
  • $2,011
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 6/07/17



Cumberland Island will be surveyed for gopher tortoise burrows using the standard line transect method.  Once a burrow is found in will be classified as active or inactive and scopes using the burrow cameras to note occupancy.  Once found, burrow dimensions will be measured and a GPS point will be taken for GIS mapping.  

Tortoise will be caught using the bucket trap method.  Once caught, tortoise measurements and gender will be quickly taken with subsequent release.  Six tortoises (3 adult males, 3 adult females) will recieve a radio transmitter and temperature monitor and tracked for 1 week, after which, 6 different tortoises will be chosen and tracked. This process will continue for 4 weeks. 

In addition, each tracked tortoise will recieve a 24hr motion camera at its burrow entrance to record daily entering and exiting, with time stamps.  

Cameras will be checked and photos downloaded every day.  

During their activity periods, radio telemetry will be used to calculate distances traveled from burrows each day.


Challenges to this project include the extremes temperatures, sometimes rough terrain, and, of course, the tortoises reluctance to participate in our study by evading capture.  :o)

Pre Analysis Plan

While in the field, I will upload data into an Excel spreadsheet as well as the GIS points into a ArcGIS database.  Because the field work is so time consuming and labor intensive, most real analysis will be performed after the field season during the Fall semester.  


This project has not yet shared any protocols.