Mark Peaden

Mark Peaden by Semester in the West
Mark Peaden, a photo by Semester in the West on Flickr.

Mark Peaden
Ph. D. Candidate in Ecology, UC Davis
Mojave National Preservation Area Tortoise Head-start Facility
Nipton, CA

On Friday afternoon, the Westies met with Mark Peaden at a Tortoise Head-start Facilty just down the highway from the Ivanpah solar thermal generation site. Mark talked about his doctoral research on the effects of roadside corridors on the federally endangered desert tortoise, and showed students around the shiny new field station. We were introduced to the world of tortoise biology through an exciting array of tortoise shells, eggs, and sample transmitters. It was inspiring to hear from a self-described “desert rat” who had been doing field biology and traveling around the country, living out of his truck for the last five or six years. At the Mojave field station, Mark helps raise the juvenile and yearling tortoises in hopes of increasing the survivability of the young. “We know so little about them,” Mark says, because the desert tortoises are such a long-lived species. This head-start facility is a tremendous opportunity to learn about tortoise behavior and habitat needs. Also, he adds, “they’re just really cute.”

By Claire Martini

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Semester in the West

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