Amphibian and Reptile Surveys

Many amphibian and reptile species can be very difficult to locate in the wild. Some species are supremely camouflaged, others spend much of their time underground, and some live in rarely visited or hard to access locations.
In order to adequately conduct surveys for these species, a thorough knowledge of their life history is required. Understanding when and where individuals are most likely to be found, as well as the techniques that are most likely to detect their presence, are the greatest challenges to conducting an effective survey.

One of the aspects that makes these animals so interesting is their great diversity of behaviors, habitats, and survival strategies; but, this can also make them difficult to locate. With the advent of smaller radiotelemetry devices and GPS dataloggers, the amount of information about wildlife movements and habitat use has grown tremendously. Keeping up with advances in our knowledge requires continually networking with other professionals in the field, attending professional herpetological meetings, and keeping current on literature published in scientific journals.

Some of the techniques I commonly use for surveying include:

  • Modified minnow traps for amphibians
  • Artificial refugia, such as corrugated metal for snakes
  • Hoop-type traps for turtles
  • Aural surveys for calling anurans (frogs and toads)
  • Leaf bags for stream dwelling salamanders
  • Visual encounter surveys

In addition to general herpetological surveys, I have conducted surveys for the following species: