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of  the TORTOISE.

The Mojave Desert Tortoise is what is known as a “Keystone Species”. A keystone species is a plant or animal that the other plants and animals in an ecosystem largely depend on for survival, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically. Think of an arch made of stones. If the other species in an ecosystem make up the “legs” of the arch, then the tortoise is the stone at the very top that keeps the stones from crashing down. If you remove that top or “Key Stone” than the arch (aka the ecosystem) collapses. 


The Burrow: A desert tortoises burrow is one of the factors that goes into its status as a keystone species. Other animals like rattlesnakes, mice, toads, lizards, insects and rabbits all use the tortoises burrow to take refuge from the intense sun here in the mojave. Tortoises can dig dozens of burrows throughout their long lives. Each burrow becoming a haven for the other critters of the desert. If the tortoises disappear, it means their burrows disappear. This leads to declines in the species that rely on these burrows and everything falls apart.

Importance to the Desert:

Importance to People:

You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, tortoises are cool, but what’s this have to do with me?” Well, though these tortoises may not directly affect your life, caring for them on an intrinsic level is vital to the future of our planet and our humanity. As the dominant species on this planet, we have a responsibility to make sure that it stays healthy and liveable for generations to come. Losing species like the desert tortoise is a sign that we are not on the right track. We need to do better for our future. For our legacy as stewards for our desert and this planet. 

"What's in it for me?"

The economy and reputation of our home town of Barstow has long been an issue of concern for us. This is our home and we want to see the City of Barstow thrive just as much as the tortoise itself. By educating residents on Community-based Natural Resource Management and placing a benefit to humans in front of our conservation plan for the tortoise we hope to encourage the citizens of Barstow to love the tortoise as our mascot and as an economic booster. Our hope is that we will inspire the residents of Barstow (and eventually beyond) to capitalize on what nature has already given us. By investing in the tortoise and our surrounding desert, we hope to create stewards out of the members of our community and save our slowpokes and their homes in the process.


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