Great Basin Naturalist


Fifty-seven individual plasma samples from desert tortoises (Xerobates agassizi) representing 10 separate populations were analyzed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis using alkaline buffers. An albumin-like protein was found to be polymorphic for two electromorphs in northern populations inhabiting the Mohave Desert Province while Sonoran Desert populations to the south were monomorphic. The genetic divergence demonstrated in this survey is similar to earlier studies and provides evidence for the Colorado River as a potential barrier to gene flow among tortoise populations. These data suggest that tortoise plasma, examined by various electrophoretic methods, may provide a nondestructive means of determining the broad regional origin of desert tortoises.