Life Cycles, Dispersal, and Critical Habitat Utilization of Vertebrates Dependent Upon Small Isolated Water Bodies in the Munson Sandhills and Woodville Karst Plain, Leon County, Florida

A long-term study of the Striped Newt ("Notophthalmus perstriatus") and Gopher Frog ("Rana capito"), two candidate species for federal threatened status, and ~25 other vertebrate animals has been underway for 12 years at 265 small, isolated water bodies (temporary, or ephemeral ponds) in the Munson Sandhills in southern Leon County, Florida. The principal objectives of the study were to determine the life cycles, dispersal, and critical habitat utilization of these species. The study has had two components: (1) monitoring by drift fence the immigration and emigration of animals in and out of Study Pond 1, and 2) periodically surveying 265 temporary ponds in the Munson Sandhills, especially 18 ponds in which the Striped Newt has been found. This report deals with the aftermath of a long-term drought that began in the fifth year, 1999, and has continued to the present. The effects of the drought have been so strong that many study ponds have been dry for long periods of time (>16 months), and one of the principal study animals, the Striped Newt, has declined or disappeared from almost all of its breeding ponds. During the report period (24 February 2004 - 31 March 2006 with no-cost time extensions until 30 March 2007), water levels returned in Study Pond 1, but only 2 adult Striped Newts entered the pond in years 7-10. In year 10, the drift fence was discontinued because of the possibility that the drift fence, itself, was hindering the normal migrations of pond animals. Striped newts and other pond-utilizing animals were thereafter sought by dipnetting in Study Pond 1 and in most of the 265 other ponds of the Munson Sandhills in years 11 and 12. Only 3 adult Striped Newts from 2 of 18 known potential breeding ponds were found in the past 8 years, and none were taken during this time from Study Pond 1. The Gopher Frog and all the other pond-utilizing vertebrates in the Munson Sandhills have bred in many ponds following the 1999-2000 drought―even though less severe drought conditions have persisted during the period of this report. Only the Striped Newt seems not to have recovered. Potential causes of the Striped Newt decline and recommendations for habitat management and future study are made.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 78p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01053634
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: OMNI 010562
  • Created Date: Jun 26 2007 8:57PM