Remnants of a Forest: Conservation of Gopher Tortoises

Herpetologist George Heinrich will discuss gopher tortoises in Florida and their conservation concerns on public lands.

The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is an imperiled chelonian that occurs in upland habitats within the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States. This keystone species is listed as Threatened by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Gopher tortoises are ecosystem engineers that create extensive burrow systems and disperse seeds, significantly contributing to upland biodiversity. The burrow systems provide important refugia from extreme temperatures, fire, and predators for the tortoises, as well as 364 other documented species rangewide. This presentation by George L. Heinrich will examine habitat restoration and management efforts (e.g., prescribed fire, thinning of trees, and control of invasive non-native plant species), and discuss the challenges of managing a natural area bordered by urban interface.

This program will take place inside the auditorium of the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center. This program is recommended for adults and youth ages 10 . Youth should be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the program.

George L. Heinrich is a field biologist and environmental educator specializing in Florida reptiles. His company, Heinrich Ecological Services is based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and conducts wildlife surveys and research, natural history programming, and nature-based tours. George is currently the Executive Director of the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust.

Reserve a Spot

This program is sponsored by the Friends of Weedon Island. Our Friends support the Weedon Island Preserve through education, preservation and protection of its habitats, ecology, and cultural history. Learn more about our Friends at
Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this class you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Prior to ten (10) working days before the class, please submit your request to and cc In your request, please be sure to include the date and title of the program you need accommodations for, indicate that the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center is the program host, and include what specific accommodations you will need.


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Sep 23 2023


10:00 am - 11:00 am

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Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History CEnter
St. Petersburg, FL


Cultural and Natural History Center
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