Broad variation in egg hatching success observed in gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) populations led us to investigate hatching success and other reproductive attributes within a unique, high-quality site in the eastern portion of the species' range. We documented use of a juvenile tortoise burrow as a nest site, a mean clutch size of 5.9 eggs, long oviposition-to-hatchling emergence times (96–128 d), and 73% hatching success for predator-protected eggs. Although consistent with previous reports of greater hatching success in eastern gopher tortoise populations than in western ones, hatching success at our eastern site was on the low end of values from other eastern populations, possibly reflecting above average rainfall during this study.
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Vol. 16 • No. 1