I am a junior Biology and French major at Davidson, and I have been involved in the Herp Lab since fall of my sophomore year. I am currently involved in a study of the habitat distribution of Hyla chrysoscelis (Gray Treefrogs) around a wetland in Huntersville, NC with Shannon Pittman. I also help out with running the drift fence, and various outreach programs. Last spring break, I went to Costa Rica with Dr. Dorcas and some other members of the Herp Lab, and I have been to SREL with the lab as well.
Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Hyla chrysoscelis within a Wetland Determined Using PVC Pi
The two main species we catch with the PVC pipes are Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis), left, and Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer).
Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) is an aquatic-breeding amphibian that is abundant in the Piedmont NC. These frogs spend much of the year in terrestrial habitats, however, and little is understood about their seasonal movement and distribution within wetlands and surrounding terrestrial habitat. Because of the reliance of many species on them, wetlands and surrounding terrestrial habitat are very important, and an understanding of hylids' use of these areas is important to the development of conservation and management plans. Our objectives for this study include learning about the distribution and movement of Cope's Gray Treefrogs among wetland habitats, and how seasonal variation affects this distribution. We also hope to determine site fidelity and possibly growth rates.
Two views of Cowan's, on left and right, and in the middle, a capture!
For this study, we have set up a grid of about 100 5-meter tall PVC pipes spaced 10 meters apart across a wetland at a nearby wildlife refuge. We go out to check the pipes once every two weeks. Any frogs we catch in the pipes are sexed, weighed, measured, and marked with Visual Implant Elastomer. Sex is recorded if we are able to determine it. Individuals that are large enough are individually marked with a Visual Implant Alpha tag. We take pictures of all frogs captured and have a Photo ID database for the project, that we can use to determine if a frog is a recapture.
A Visual Implant Elastomer Tag, which is injected into the leg of hylids that are big enough, and on the left, a capture and recapture of the same frog!
So far, hylids have been present throughout the spring, summer, and fall, though not in the winter. High site fidelity has been noted, and we have found that frogs tend to live in terrestrial areas surrounding wetlands, and not in the wetlands themselves.
Last spring, as a part of my Amphibian and Reptile Conservation class, Shannon Pittman and I participated in Project Bog Turtle, assisting with surveys to monitor a known population of Bog Turtles, and surveying areas where a population had existed previously. We were lucky enough to find 5 individuals at one site, though none were found at the site where the historical population had been.
Two Bog Turtles we caught, and a bog we surveyed.
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