Quantifying Amphibian Richness in Southeastern Forests

Despite numerous museum records and published range maps, gaps exist in current knowledge of the abundance and distribution of many amphibian species. Furthermore, because of the unique life histories among amphibians, several techniques conducted across several diurnal and seasonal time scales are needed to detect species presence. We conducted surveys at fixed points within forests on a military land base in east-central Mississippi to quantify amphibian richness using anuran call counts and time-constrained area searches, 1998-2000. Concomitantly, we completely enclosed 3 ephemeral pools with drift fence-pitfall arrays to monitor seasonal use by amphibians and gain further knowledge of local species richness. We detected 21 species of amphibians among 4 habitat types using anuran call counts and area searches at fixed points. Species richness at fixed points by habitat type was 12, 16, 17, and 9 for pine, pine-hardwood, riparian, and beaver (Castor canadensis) wetlands, respectively. Mean species richness by point ranged from 2.71 (SE = 2.52) in pines to 7.83 (SE = 0.75) in riparian hardwoods. Data from enclosed breeding pools added 2 additional species to the overall richness of the land base. We also conducted area searches away from fixed points and added 2 more species to overall richness. Thus, amphibian richness for the land base was 25 species though no technique detected >17 species alone. We documented 9 new counties records, including pine woods treefrog (Hyla femoralis) and four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum), which were extensions of documented and predicted ranges. We recommend that natural resource managers in the Southeast generate a list of all potential species in the area, based on historical and current information, then develop a sampling protocol that would confirm or deny the presence of each species based on specific habitat requirements and life histories. Furthermore, research technicians should be trained in amphibian identification in case new species are detected, and vouchers should be collected when new records are identified.

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