Mercy Vaughn

Mercy has been working as an Environmental/Compliance specialist in the U.S. desert southwest for the past 28 years. While she conducts biological resource inventories and oversees compliance measures for multiple Threatened, Endangered, and sensitive species, her passion has been working with desert tortoises. Most recently, she has been working on developing methods of using drone technology for desert tortoise conservation in California. She grew up in Laredo, Texas and is of Mexican American descent. Her love of wildlife began when she was a child as she would rescue every injured or displaced lizard, snake, turtle, and bird her mother would allow. She was first inspired to study tortoises when she attended the University of Arizona where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 1993 working closely with the late desert ecologist Charles H. Lowe. In 2001 she combined her love of Mexico and tortoises initiating and leading a 15-year multi-disciplinary research project studying the distribution, genetics, ecology, and health and disease of Gopherus sp. in the states of Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico. This work led to the newly described Goode’s Thornscrub Tortoise. She continues to advise the Turtle Conservancy on their land acquisition project in Durango, Mexico to conserve some of the last remaining Bolson tortoise habitat. She and her three dogs currently live in San Luis Obispo, CA.