Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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A Spatially Explicit Population Modeling Framework to Support Conservation Decision Making for Gopher Tortoises in Georgia


July 2012 - June 2017


Through a combination of meta-analysis and targeted field work, we propose to construct models that combine spatially explicit population processes and landscape elements to predict response of gopher tortoise populations to conservation actions. Probabilities of patch colonization and patch abandonment could be modeled as functions of the local population distribution, habitat and landscape attributes, and assessments of connectivity. Some of the parameters may be obtained from the literature or existing data sources; alternatively, some model parameters may quantified from targeted monitoring that we conduct. Where no information exists at all for a critical parameter, competing models could be developed around plausible values of the parameter. Over time, as conservation actions are carried out and their results are assessed, evidence will accumulate to better inform these models.

Research Products and Activities

Technical Publications

  • Nuse, B. L., R. L. Bormann, J. Hepinstall-Cymerman, and C. T. Moore. 2017. Habitat models and predictions for gopher tortoises in Georgia. Final Report to USGS Cooperative Research Units Program.


  • Bormann, R., J. Hepinstall-Cymerman, L. German, J. Rice, C. Moore, and M. Elliott. 2014. (Poster) Modeling gopher tortoise habitat and habitat connectivity in Georgia, and analyzing the role of private landowners in their conservation. 36th Annual Gopher Tortoise Council Meeting, 17-19 October 2014, Albany, GA.
  • Bormann, R., J. Hepinstall-Cymerman, B. Nuse, C. Moore, and M. Elliott. 2015. (Poster) Modeling gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) distribution in Georgia. 37th Annual Gopher Tortoise Council Meeting, 16-18 October 2015, Covington, LA.
  • Hepinstall-Cymerman, J., R. Bormann, B. Nuse, C. Moore, and M. Elliott. 2016. Mapping gopher tortoise habitat in Georgia using multi-season Landsat imagery and multiple statistical modeling techniques. The Wildlife Society 23rd Annual Conference, 15-19 October 2016, Raleigh, NC.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 144

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 670

Scientific Publications: 1897

Presentations: 4202



  • Clinton MooreCo-Principal Investigator
  • Jeff Hepinstall-CymermanCo-Principal Investigator
  • Matt ElliottCo-Principal Investigator
  • Lora SmithCo-Principal Investigator

Funding Agencies

  • CRU Program
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey