Dataset 319

Effects of rangeland management on community dynamics of herpetofauna to the tallgrass prairie

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Realm: Terrestrial
Climate: Temperate
Biome: Temperate grasslands, savannas and shrublands
Central latitude: 37.250000
Central longitude: -96.716660
Duration: 14 years, from 1989 to 2003

232 records

35 distinct species

Across the time series Diadophis punctatus is the most frequently occurring species


Herpetofaunal surveys were conducted on one day between 19–30 April each year. The survey route consisted of the same 4-km walk which took approximately four hours (1000–1400 h). Walking surveys is an effective and widespread practice for monitoring amphibian and reptile communities (Doan. 2003; Woodford and Meyer. 2003). The route included normal tallgrass prairie habitats. the shorelines of a pond. and intermittent streams. Amphibians and reptiles were detected by turning over rocks and other debris. and by sighting animals in the open. Each year. we recorded the number of individuals of each species encountered. and environmental conditions including: midday air temperature (C). water temperature (C). cloud cover. burn conditions (burned versus unburned). and the presence of flowing water in the intermittent streams (Table 1). ---- Fourteen herpetofaunal surveys were conducted during a 15-year period (1989–1990 and 1992–2003) at Bud Jan Nitschke (BJN) cattle ranch in Cowley County. Kansas (37u159 N. 96u439 W). The 650 ha ranch is located in the southern portion of the Flint Hills. and the vegetation is dominated by a matrix of perennial warm-season C4 grasses. such as big bluestem (A. gerardii). little bluestem (A. scoparius). indiangrass (S. nutans). and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). A diverse mixture of other less abundant species includes warm-season and cool-season grasses. composites. legumes. and other forbs. Woody species such as leadplant (Amorpha canescens). buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus). New Jersey tea (Caenothus herbaceous). and smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) are locally common (Freeman and Hulbert. 1985). Average monthly temperature ranges from a low in January (22.7 C) to a high in July (26.6 C). Average annual total precipitation ranges from .750 to 850 mm with 75% falling during a summer growing season (March–July; Bark. 1987). One common characteristic of the region is protruding limestone outcrops on hilltops. which provide suitable habitat for several species of amphibians and reptiles. During the 15-year study. two management practices were implemented at the BJN ranch. Traditional season-long stocking (200 hundred cows with their calves. .0.6 animals/ha) was implemented the first 10 years (1989–1998) and pastures were burned in alternate years. Starting in 1999. the land management practice switched to intensive-early cattle stocking (approximately 650 yearlings. .1.0 animals/ha. maintained for 3 months starting in late spring) combined with annual burning. Herpetofaunal surveys 4-km walk which took approximately four hours Unit of abundance = IndCountInt, Unit of biomass = NA


Wilgers, D. J., Horne, E. A., Sandercock, B. K. & Volkmann, A. W. (2006) Effects of rangeland management on community dynamics of the herpetofauna of the tallgrass prairie. Herpetologica, 62, 378–388.