mojave desert tortoise

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This #WomeninSTEM Wednesday, meet BLM-California Wildlife Biologist Joyce Schlachter.

How many years have you been with the BLM? 

24

What do you like best about your job?

There is always something new to learn and to get involved with because of BLM’s multiple-use mission and the vast amount of land we manage. I have been able to experience working with a variety of wildlife in many different habitat types.  I have worked in the forests of southwestern Oregon, the Redwoods, the Mojave Desert and southern California, which is considered to be a world biodiversity hotspot.  San Diego County where I am now stationed has more biodiversity than any other county in North America.  I have worked on demographic studies for the northern spotted owl, desert bighorn sheep, Townsend’s big-eared bat and the Mojave Desert tortoise.

What did you do to prepare yourself for your career with the BLM?

My love of nature and animals, domestic and wild, has been my saving grace. It was only natural that I would someday work with and for the environment and animals.  I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I was a little girl but, instead my first job was for a dentist and I spent the next 17 years being a Registered Dental Assistant.  I also assisted in veterinary dentistry and worked on gorillas, lions and dogs used in Disney motion pictures. During this time I decided I wanted to pursue a college degree and do more.  I then studied at Humbolt State University and earned my bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. During my studies I participated in a career day and was chosen by BLM to be in the cooperative education program.

My advice to other women wanting to work in science and/or as a Wildlife Biologist:

I believe it is never too late to begin to pursue your interests.  I didn’t know what I would be doing with my degree and I didn’t know I’d be working for the BLM.  As trite as it may sound, it is important to follow your heart, be open to new adventures-say “Yes” and don’t give up!  I also feel it’s very important to volunteer your services in a field that you are passionate about. In my spare time, I volunteer for Project Wildlife, rehabilitating bats; an opportunity that is priceless.

Interview submitted by My Public Lands Tumblr blogger Michelle Puckett

youtube

This four minute short movie depicts the hatching of a Mojave Desert Tortoise. This is the continuation of a sixty million year process for this threatened species. One of the surprising moments in the movie is when the hatchling tumbles from its shell and is propped up by its yolk. This is an evolutionary adaptation where the young absorb the yolk over several hours and they then use that nutrition to sustain themselves during the first few months of their lives. This is an especially handy adaptation as the young tortoises hatch in late summer when temperatures can exceed 110 degrees making the search for food especially difficult. 

The images shown here are part of a larger movie expected to be released by the USGS in November, 2009. That program will depict the USGS research program on the Desert Tortoise and the role of that research in managing desert environments to allow the species to recover and escape the threat of extinction. 

This movie was produced by the USGS Western Ecological Research Center and USGS Western Region Office of Communications in cooperation with the Las Vegas based Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the San Diego Zoo.