Patricia S. and Ray E. Ashton Jr. worked together as field biologists and educators for nearly 30 years. They conducted a wide range of studies and projects, covering topics from salamander and frog behavior to sustainable tourism and management of protected areas. In 1997, they established Finca de la Tortuga Ashton Biological Preserve. In this 100-acre upland habitat, they tested management techniques as part of an in-depth study into the foraging of gopher tortoises and other species of reptiles and amphibians. They founded the Ashton Biodiversity Research and Preservation Institute, Inc., and the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative (GTCI). They are the authors of The Gopher Tortoise: A Life History.