Archbold Biological Station
Biennial Report 1995-1996

P.O. Box 2057 Lake Placid, Florida 33862 USA
863-465-2571 FAX: 863-699-1927

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Vertebrate Research

Project Director: James N. Layne
Research Assistant: Daniel C. Durrance
Graduate Interns: Gerald R. Johnston, Vishnu Love
Outside Collaborators: Gerald R. Johnston, Broward Community College; David S. Maehr, Wilkinson & Associates; Walter E. Meshaka, Jr., Everglades National Park; Wayne C. Packer, University of Western Australia; A. W. Sharey, Carolina Wesleyan College

Active research projects of the Vertebrate Laboratory in 1995-96 involved selected mammal, herptile, and bird species. Three long-term studies of the habitat relationships and population trends of mammals of the Station were continued during the Biennial. Small mammal (shrews and rodents) mark-and-release trapping was conducted on five 2.8-ha grids in old-growth southern ridge sandhill, sand pine scrub, scrubby flatwoods, and bayhead/flatwoods habitats in April and July. These study areas have been periodically sampled since 1968. As part of the grid studies, annual censuses of oak, hickory, and palmetto mast production were also performed. Population levels and diversity of the small mammal communities in all major habitats of the Station were monitored by means of 16 standard line transects in May and August, and track counts on a permanent 4.5-km census strip in January and July provided data on the relative abundance of larger mammals, including raccoons, opossums, bobcats, black bears, and white-tailed deer. Studies of the effects of prescribed fire on small mammal populations and species composition in a sand pine scrub area burned in 1986 and a southern ridge sandhill plot burned in 1993 were also continued. Daniel Durrance was the principal field and laboratory assistant in these studies, and Kevin Main also helped out on occasion.

With the assistance of Gerald Johnston and Vishnu Love, graduate research interns, marking and release of gopher tortoises and periodic sampling of a herptile pitfall grid in southern ridge sandhill and four herptile pitfall-drift fence-funnel trap arrays in sand pine scrub was continued. Johnston also aided in computer entry and statistical analysis of gopher tortoise data. Among the more interesting results of an analysis of the long-term herptile grid data by Layne, Johnston, and Walter Meshaka was the relatively high species richness and diversity of the old growth sandhill habitat due to the persistence of species characteristic of early successional stages and the addition of species associated with more mature habitat conditions.

Jim Layne and Todd Steiner prepared a report for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the threatened Eastern indigo snake. The report, based on data collected over a 30-year period on and in the vicinity of the Station, will be used in the preparation of the indigo snake recovery plan. Extensive data from roadside censuses of selected wading birds and raptors, mast surveys in major habitats, and bird species abundances in major oldgrowth habitats of the Station were also analyzed for publication. Johnston completed research on the thermal biology of the gopher tortoise for his Ph.D. in the Department of Biology, University of Miami, and Vishnu Love conducted a study of habitat relationships of the Florida scrub lizard during their tenure as graduate research interns in the lab.



blkball.gif (842 bytes)Lohrer, F.E . (Editor). 1998. Archbold Biological Station, Biennial Report 1995-1996. Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid. 62 pp.
Archbold Biological Station, 1998, October.
blkball.gif (842 bytes)Webmaster: Fred Lohrer.