We investigated movement and burrow use patterns from May 1997 through May 1998 in a gopher tortoise population (n = 123) within a 100-ha study site of high quality (old trees, ground cover intact, growing-season fire regime) longleaf pine-wiregrass habitat located in Baker County, Georgia, USA. Telemetered females moved more frequently in summer months (June–October) but traveled longer distances in September than during other months of the 1997 active season. Males exhibited a peak in movement during August and September 1997 that corresponded with mating activity. The longest distance moved between tracking locations did not differ between males and females, but mean distance per move, number of burrows used, and annual home range size were greater in males than in females. The maximum distance moved by an individual during an active season was negatively correlated with female body size but not male body size. No such relationship was found between body size and number of burrows used by either females or males. Similarly, no relationship was found between body size and annual home range area of adult females and males. Our study provides the most complete estimate of annual home range size of gopher tortoises. Because these data describe movements in an area that retains features of the ancestral habitat, these estimates are the best available for designing reserve areas for this threatened species.
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Vol. 59 • No. 3