Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Jones, C. Jeanna

Committee Member

Leopold, D. Bruce

Committee Member

Fogarty, H. Jarrod

Committee Member

Jones, Daryl W.

Date of Degree

1-1-2009

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Abstract

I conducted surveys of amphibian, reptile, and small mammal communities surrounding 4 isolated, upland and 6 stream-connected temporary wetlands on Tombigbee National Forest and Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in north Mississippi from May 2001 - March 2006. Trap captures yielded 17 amphibian species (n = 11,142), 21 reptile species (n = 541), and 10 small mammal species (n = 472). Upland pools supported greater diversity of Ambystomatid salamanders, anurans, lizards, and mice (Peromyscus spp.), than floodplain pools. Factors including landscape position of pools, proximity to alternate water sources, and barriers to dispersal potentially influenced faunal communities of temporary wetlands. Infrared-triggered cameras were used to monitor mammalian activity surrounding ephemeral wetlands to determine potential depredation of pitfall traps. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) accounted for most images (35% total images). I assessed relative effectiveness of sampling techniques to capture and retain herpetiles in presence of depredation. I tested pitfall trap, funnel trap, and pitfall trap combined with exclusion cover along driftence arrays. Overall, pitfall traps of both designs produced more captures than funnels, and excluded-pitfalls yielded greater captures than un-excluded pitfalls for most amphibians. Overall mortality rates were <2% of total captures with anurans accounting for most (63.30%) mortality. I submit that in long-term studies, pitfall traps with exclusion are prudent to limit sampling bias and mortality occurring with depredation of captured herpetofauna. During trapping, pit-traps of both designs yielded incidental captures of small mammals. Capture rates for small mammals were similar in un-excluded pitfall traps and excluded pitfall traps. Southern short-tailed shrews (Blarina carolinensis) and mice accounted for 93% of total captures and suffered 76% and 52% mortality, respectively, potentially due to exposure, starvation, flooding, and/or depredation. Additionally, one species listed as rare in Mississippi was captured during herpetofaunal surveys, oldfield mouse (Peromyscus polionotus). Due to potential impact of pitfall trapping on small mammals, I recommend that researchers either alter trapping methods to address non-target hazards (frequency of checking traps, providing shelter) or work cooperatively using an integrated survey approach for herpetiles and small mammals to limit trap mortality.

URI

https://hdl.handle.net/11668/15616

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