Michael Tuma

Ph.D. Candidate, Integrative and Evolutionary Biology

Graduate Advisor: Craig Stanford

Michael Tuma with an adult male Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in the Mojave Desert, California, USA.

Dissertation Research

My dissertation research is an examination of life history variation in the North American tortoises of the genus Gopherus. Specifically, I am interested in intraspecific variation in adult body size and expression of sexual size dimorphism, interspecific egg and clutch size variation in relation to morphological constraints, and intraspecific divergences in life history traits in response to differential, localized ecological conditions.

Research Interests

Broadly, I am interested in ecology and themes pertaining to evolution, particularly life history evolution and biogeography. As a herpetologist, I am also interested in the biology of turtles, especially  tortoises (Family Testudinidae). My research with turtles and tortoises has included analyses of population structure and status; home range, dispersal, habitat use, and seasonal activity patterns; reproduction and survival; population modeling; and biogeography. I've worked with a variety of species, including yellow mud turtles, gopher tortoises, and Agassiz's desert tortoises. I am passionate about conservation issues, and much of my work has focused on analyses of threats to turtle and tortoise populations and making recommendations for management of habitat and conservation of populations. I am currently seeking funding for my planned post-doc study, a range-wide analysis of the genetic structure and biogeography of the east African pancake tortoise.   
Michael Tuma and Tanzanian biologist Reginald Mwaya examining a pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) in Kwa Kuchinga, Tanzania.


Tuma, Michael. W. and Craig B. Stanford. 2014. Chapter 17: History of Human Interaction with North American Tortoises. In: D.C. Rostal, E.D. McCoy, and H.R. Mushinsky (Eds), Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Nagy, K. A., L. Scott Hillard, Michael W. Tuma, and David J. Morafka. 2014. Head-started desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii): Movements, survivorship and mortality causes following their release. Herpetological Conservation and Biology (in press).

Stanford, Craig and Michael Tuma. 2013. Pancake breakfast: The Pancake Tortoise's biology is wonderfully bizarre, but also renders the species vulnerable to extinction. The Tortoise 1(2):56-63.

Tuma, Michael W. 2006. Range, habitat use, and seasonal activity of the yellow mud turtle (Kinosternon flavescens) in Northwestern Illinois: Implications for site-specific conservation and management. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 5(1):108-120.

Contact & Social Media

Email: mtuma@usc.edu
Twitter: @michaeltuma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-tuma/3b/968/946
ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Tuma
Academia.edu: https://usc.academia.edu/MichaelTuma