Climate Change and Desert Tortoises by Defenders of Wildlife

Elephantine limbs and long claws help the desert tortoise dig burrows to dodge the dry desert heat in the four U.S. states where they can be found: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. But the threatened reptile likely will not escape the results of a warming planet.

Every region will experience the effects of climate change differently, and in the desert, droughts are expected to become more extreme and more frequent. Although the species is well-suited to store water for long periods, during severe droughts it is not uncommon to see clusters of empty shells. Couple this with habitat loss as more and more land on the desert margin falls to urbanization and it could spell the end of the species.

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