Reptile and Amphibian Monitoring at Sandy Bottom Preserve

Madeline Grace McLeod

Abstract


The Southern Appalachian Mountains are among the most biodiverse temperate regions, particularly with regard to salamander diversity. However, many species in this region are endangered, threatened, or of special concern. Habitat loss, disease, and potentially climate change are major contributors to population declines of herpetofaunal species. Sandy Bottom Preserve is a wetland complex in the French Broad River floodplain near Asheville, North Carolina. A survey of reptile and amphibian populations at this site has not been taken since 2004, therefore the objective of this research is to establish a current herpetofauna inventory. This sensitive habitat is a known location for North Carolina Species of Special Concern including mole salamanders (Ambystoma talpoideum) and four-toed salamanders (Hemidactylum scutatum), and it serves as a breeding site for many other amphibians. There are also historical records of bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), a federally threatened species. North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission personnel have conveyed concern regarding the potential widening of Highway 191, which separates Sandy Bottom from the French Broad River. The development of this road could impact local herpetofauna populations. Therefore, establishment of an updated, systematically obtained record of diversity is critical before construction is proposed. Methods of data collection include the use of drift fences with pitfall traps and coverboards, both common and effective tools used in herpetofaunal monitoring. The monitoring schedule is largely dependent on weather conditions, with pitfall traps opened and checked every 24 hours during rain events and coverboards checked a minimum of six times per month. The study period spanned from September 2016 to March 2017. This research provides an updated inventory of herpetofauna in this ecosystem for the monitoring of rare or threatened species and those at the edge of their known ranges.


Keywords


ecology, herpetology, conservation, Appalachian,

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