Date of this Version
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2016) 23:7032–7037
We monitored cryptic herpetofauna at Savannas Preserve State Park, Florida, by combining artificial cover counts with a quantitative paradigm for constructing and calculating population indices. Weekly indices were calculated from two consecutive days of data collection each week for 7 months from mid-winter to mid-summer in three habitats. Seventeen species were observed at least once, and time trends using index values were followed for six species. Among these, abundance and seasonal pattern information were obtained for an exotic species (greenhouse frog) and a species identified by the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals as threatened (Florida scrub lizard). We identified winter as the optimal time in this area to monitor populations for conducting annual assessments. This combined observation and indexing approach could provide managers or researchers with an economical means to quantitatively index population trends for multiple cryptic herpetofauna species simultaneously. Using artificial cover to sample within a population indexing design can be generalized beyond monitoring herpetofauna. Other forms of artificial cover that can be used as observation stations include aquatic artificial substrates, artificial tree cavities, artificial reefs, and other artificial aquatic structures and artificial sea grass units, among many others, and a wide range of taxa are suitable for population monitoring using artificial cover as observation stations in the approach we present, including insects, soil invertebrates, micro and macro aquatic invertebrates, fish, crustaceans, and small mammals.