Cristina A. Jones
Cristina’s lifelong interest in reptiles was fostered through the numerous hiking and camping trips throughout Arizona where her parents taught her that wildlife is wondrous and worthy of study. It was on one such hike when she was four years old that she encountered her first Sonoran desert tortoise – and her love for turtles was ignited. As an undergraduate in Wildlife Science at the University of Arizona, she pursued this passion when hired to radio-track Sonoran desert tortoises for a study on the effects of fire on long lived species while completing her B.S. Armed with the critical necessity for Sonoran desert tortoise health studies, in 2001 she was awarded an Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund Grant to study the prevalence of Mycoplasma agassizii in wild and captive Sonoran desert tortoises in Arizona. This research was the focus of her Master’s thesis. In 2006, she accepted the position of Turtles Project Coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. As the state lead for the eight native turtle species in Arizona, she strives to conduct and continue scientific studies that further the knowledge of turtle survival and ecology in Arizona. Through leading five inter-agency/inter-organizational working groups, she works with other scientists to identify priority research needs that could be addressed through her own research or the Department’s Heritage Grant Program. In addition, she provides outreach and advocacy for turtles as a member of the Southwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (SWPARC) Steering Committee, a Board member for the Desert Tortoise Council, and an active member of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). Her professional goal is to maintain a position in turtle conservation and management which utilizes her knowledge, leadership, organizational skills, and enthusiasm to encourage and promote innovative ideas to assure the survival of viable populations of native turtle species throughout their range.
To learn more about Cristina’s work and Arizona’s turtles, please visit: https://www.azgfd.com/Wildlife/speciesofgreatestconservneed/turtles/