HERPETOFAUNAL RESPONSES TO FIRE AND VARIATION IN AMPHIBIAN CALL INTENSITY IN AN EASTERN TEXAS POST OAK SAVANNAH LANDSCAPE
Tubbs, Ashley C
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Herpetofauna are critical links in the functioning of ecosystems. Despite this, herpetofauna are declining worldwide and more research is necessary to their declines and evaluate how various land management practices impact populations. Fire is a natural part of the savannahs of eastern Texas, but fire suppression has significantly altered landscapes in this region. As a result, controlled burning is being increasingly implemented in many areas to help restore the natural community. My goal was to determine how 3 burning treatments influenced the herpetofaunal community of Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area in eastern Texas. I sampled herpetofauna with pitfall traps in summer of 2013 and both pitfall and funnel traps in summer of 2014. I captured 80 individuals of 14 species in 2013 and 109 individuals of 19 species in 2014. I then compared diversity, evenness, richness, and abundance using ANOVA with month and treatment as main effects, and found no differences among the various community characteristics across the burning treatments or months. At present, my data provides no evidence that the burning regime used by Gus Engeling WMA effects the herpetofaunal community, but further monitoring will be needed to evaluate longer term trends. I also used frog call surveys to monitor amphibians across the site. Frog call surveys are being used widely to monitor amphibian populations and their declines. I was interested in determining when during the year, as well as when throughout each night, different species call at Gus Engeling WMA in eastern Texas. For this study, I put out 7 audio recorders in various habitat types and recorded from 23 February 2013 until 14 July 2013, with each recorder recording the first 5 minutes of every half hour from 18:00 – 07:00. Species richness was highest from the first week of April until the last week of May, and from 19:00 until 05:00 each night. With these data, I can recommend recording from late March until early June while also recording less time during each night than I did without losing detection of any species.