Camp Shelby Training Site (CSTS) is a Mississippi Army National Guard installation located on State, Department of Defense, and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands in south
A significant model (P < 0.001) was developed for prediction of tortoise burrow occurrence. Explanatory variables that were positively related to burrow occurrence included understory legume coverage, midstory woody coverage, percentage of overstory pine, and bare ground and debris coverage. With cross-validation procedures, we correctly predicted the presence or absence of burrows for 83.9 % of the observed outcomes. We suggest that tortoises in our study existed in suboptimal habitat conditions due to dense midstory coverage and limited frequency of prescribed burning over long durations. Previous studies at CSTS that evaluated effects of dormant season and growing season burns conducted over <3 years indicated that shrub cover was initially reduced post-burn, but stem densities increased in following years. This study’s findings suggested that multiple years of prescribed fire combined with additional management measures were necessary for restoration of optimal habitat conditions for tortoises. This approach may be important considering fire hazards and burning bans implemented in 2006-2007 due to drought conditions and Hurricane Katrina’s impacts. We suggest that habitat evaluation and modeling efforts can be used to determine habitat management and monitoring needs over the long term. Our findings have implications for designing future models for habitat quality assessment for tortoises.