Plasma biochemistry, hematology, and blood parasites of a translocated population of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) from Georgia
Sonderman, Kimberly Annette Freemal
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Gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are a long-lived terrestrial tortoise endemic to the southeastern United States. Due to habitat loss and human intervention, they are one of the most translocated species. It is not clear as to the impact that disease or parasites have on populations and few long-term studies have been conducted to monitor the health status of gopher tortoises. The overall goal of this study was to contribute to the baseline health parameters of the species by establishing blood reference values (n = 145) and by evaluating the prevalence of haemogregarines (Apicomplexa: Adeleorina), an intraerythrocytic protozoan parasite, in a translocated population of tortoises on St Catherines Island, Georgia. Based on blood smears and ectoparasite data from 22 adults and 12 juveniles, 86% and 0%, respectively, which leads us to believe that tortoises hatched on the island have not been exposed to the potential vector, Amblyomma turberculatum.