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    P2: Herpetology: Conservation & Management

    2021-07-27   16:00 - 18:00

    To view the posters go to You will be able to chat one-on-one during the Tuesday poster session, the e-poster platform.

    1.  16:00  The Effects of Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) on the Terrestrial Vertebrate Assemblages in Southeastern Longleaf Pine Flatwood/Savanna Habitats. Corey Samples*, SLU; Christopher Beachy, SLU

    Longleaf pine ecosystems are considered to be biodiversity hotspots for flora and fauna alike. Historically, these habitats dominated the southern United States but now only 3 percent remain. Anthropogenic disturbances such as forest clearing for livestock grazing and lumber, and quelling of necessary wildfires have played a role in the reduction in longleaf pine habitat. In recent years, more dedicated efforts have been enacted to protect and restore this characteristic habitat and have shown significant signs of success. Even so, there are natural forces that can tip the scales and undo the attempts to save the remnants of the longleaf pine savanna. Feral hogs are a highly invasive species that have spread throughout the world thanks to human introductions for the purpose of food and sport. Wild pigs possess many generalist adaptations which foster enormous invasive potential, including high reproductive potential and omnivorous diet. The different ways swine can directly and indirectly interact with the biotic and abiotic environmental components have the capacity to cause massive shifts in community assemblages. To quantify these impacts, this study will use field based sampling to investigate how feral hogs are influencing the characteristic terrestrial vertebrate communities, namely mammals and herpetofauna, of longleaf pine savannas. Species richness, abundances, and community diversities will be calculated and compared between areas with differing densities of feral hogs. These results can be integrated in a wide array of management plans, ranging from more generalist (i.e, impacts of invasive species) or more specific (i.e., longleaf pine restoration).

    2.  16:00  Colorful lizards and the conflict of collection. Natalie Claunch *, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida; Colin Goodman, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida; Zachary Steele, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida; Diane Episcopio-Sturgeon, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida; Christina Romagosa, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida

    Invasive species present a serious threat to global biodiversity, and a large cost to the management thereof. Untold in these costs are the conflicts that can arise between invasive species managers and various stakeholder groups. Chameleons are popular in the pet trade, and have been intentionally introduced in numerous locations, notably throughout the state of Florida. Recently, we located a population of panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) in relatively densely populated (1380 people/km2) city in central Florida. The population's discovery by others has resulted in an apparent increase of private and commercial collectors surveying for the express purpose of capturing chameleons. We administered anonymous questionnaires to local residents to determine how this species introduction and the ensuing species collection has affected residents. These questionnaires aimed to quantify respondents’ knowledge of and attitudes toward three primary topics: presence of chameleons in the area, presence of private collectors and researchers looking for chameleons in the area, and existence of various community science platforms. Respondents reported having knowledge of chameleons in the area and were aware of their nonnative status, but most expressed low concern about the presence of chameleons. Respondents who had observed chameleons in the area expressed stronger emotional reactions and perceived impact on their safety in regard to the actions of individuals searching for chameleons. Our results highlight the importance of recognizing the social impacts of species introductions in urban environments, specifically the attention these species can draw and the mixed perception of these species and their associated social disturbances communities.

    3.  16:00  Searching for a Needle in a Haystack: Using computer algorithms to detect reintroduced Louisiana Pinesnakes captured with camera traps. Wade Ryberg*, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Danielle Walkup, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Emlyn Smith, USDA Forest Service; Josh Pierce, USDA Forest Service; James Childress, USDA Forest Service; Forrest East, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Corey Fielder, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Brandon Bowers, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Brian Pierce, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute; Toby Hibbitts, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute

    Rare and secretive snake species with low occupancy and detection rates are expensive to monitor and study using traditional box traps. Advancements in camera trap technology have provided wildlife researchers with a more efficient technique to monitor such species, like the federally listed Louisiana Pinesnake (Pituophis ruthveni) which can be difficult to detect due to both rarity and a life history with secretive behaviors. However, the task of converting camera images to snake detections from extremely large image collections using these techniques is soul-crushing. Can computer algorithms help streamline the process? Here, we report the results of an eight-month camera trapping study using time-lapse triggered camera traps to detect snakes, in particular reintroduced P. ruthveni, in a Louisiana upland forest. We scored all camera images manually and then compared the manual snake detections to those generated using computer algorithms. We report the false positive and false negative rates from our computer algorithms for all snake species detected with camera traps. Future research will focus on refining species-specific detection protocols using this technique and computer algorithm.

    4.  16:00  Gopher Tortoise Abundance and Juvenile Site-Occupancy on a Military Training Range in Southern Florida. Betsie B. Rothermel*, Archbold Biological Station; Jessica L. Fort, Archbold Biological Station; Kelly M. O'Connor, Archbold Biological Station; Jennifer L. Beck, Archbold Biological Station

    Obtaining life-history and demographic information for every life stage is an important goal of many population monitoring programs. However, it can be prohibitively labor-intensive to obtain such data for cryptic juvenile Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). Based on previous monitoring in 2009-2011, Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) supports one of the largest populations of Gopher Tortoises in peninsular Florida. During 2015-2017, we implemented two types of surveys throughout 2,493 ha of Florida scrub communities at APAFR: line transect distance sampling (LTDS) to estimate abundance of larger tortoise size classes; and juvenile burrow surveys (n = 60 sites) to estimate site-occupancy of smaller size classes. LTDS yielded an estimate of 1,847 subadults and adults (95% CI: 1,425–2,393; CV 13.2%). Estimated probability of site occupancy for juvenile burrows was 0.61 (SE 0.18). Detection of juvenile burrows was not affected by habitat openness or observer experience, although survey efficiency can be enhanced by conducting surveys after prescribed burns. Juvenile burrow site-occupancy was positively associated with proportion of well-drained soils and negatively associated with canopy cover. Probability of occupancy also declined with increasing number of fires. Modeling site occupancy of juvenile burrows is a potentially viable approach to assessing spatial and temporal patterns of recruitment. However, greater statistical precision is needed and could be achieved with increased sample sizes. Results of our multi-faceted monitoring efforts imply that proper management of scrub communities on well-drained soils is critical for juvenile recruitment and long-term persistence of Gopher Tortoises in this landscape.

    5.  16:00  Amphibian Search & Rescue: Monitoring the Amphibiansof McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area in Western Colorado. Tanner Fundingsland*, Colorado Mesa University; Trevor Sipe*, Colorado Mesa University; Abram Wood*, Colorado Mesa University; Denita Weeks, Colorado Mesa University

    McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area (MCNCA) spans a 24 mile stretch of the Colorado River in Western Colorado. During the spring and summer months, the MCNCA canyon tributaries that drain into the Colorado River provide breeding habitat for several amphibian species. Amphibian species diversity and abundance was previously unknown for this canyon system. Since 2019, an interagency collaboration granted the opportunity to determine which native or invasive amphibian species were present in the canyons through visual surveys, call surveys, and eDNA analysis. A secondary objective was to determine the presence of the pathogenic amphibian fungus,Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis(Bd), in the amphibians of the MCNCA.Bdcan cause the fatal skin disease chytridiomycosis and has been responsible for many amphibian population declines and extirpations. During surveys, the invasive American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) has been found in the MCNCA near the Colorado River and one individual tested positive forBd. Bullfrogs are known vectors for disease transmission to native amphibians. Surveys in the MCNCA continue to monitor the native amphibian diversity, American Bullfrog locations, and Bdstatus with special focus on natural barriers as a potential reason that American Bullfrogs have not moved farther into remote canyons containing native species.

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