The Missouri Herpetological Association held its second annual spring field trip Sat 26 May 2007 in the vicinity of Truman Lake. The purpose of the trip (in priority order) was to a) search for historical populations of the Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata), b) document species found on the H Roe Bartle (Boy) Scout Reservation, and c) search for new and updated records in the three-county area of Saint Clair, Benton, and Henry Co MO. Habitats searched included ponds, stream beds, the shores of Truman Lake, wooded hillsides, glades, and roadcuts.
Fifteen members caught more than 300 individual reptiles and amphibians, representing a total of 32 species. Most collecting activity occurred on Sat 26 May 2007, but a few species were observed or caught at the reservation the previous evening (Fri 25 May 2007) by members that arrived to camp. Also, several species were observed and photographed on the reservation on Sun (27 May 2007) morning. Finally, a subset of the participants spent a few hours in nearby Cedar Co MO, which yielded several additional animals.
The target species, the Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata), was not located. However, the group’s efforts were hindered by the lack of large tracts of suitable glade habitat. Other glade species were observed during the trip and more work is needed in the area to determine the status of Sonora. Eighteen species were recorded at the scout reservation (see table) with many common species missing from the list. At least one hillside on the reservation was an extensive but partially overgrown glade site and only a small part of the area was surveyed. More survey work on that area will very likely yield a much larger species list. Finally, several new localities were documented for the four collection counties (Benton, Cedar, Henry, and Saint Clair), including two “open circle” county records from the scout reservation (Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) and Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) for Saint Clair Co) and a new county record (Broadhead Skink (Eumeces laticeps) for Cedar Co).
During the survey, a simple datasheet was used to record all finds and a list of guidelines and target species was provided to each of the participants.
The entire weekend was characterized by mild temperatures and cloudy conditions although it was sunny for brief periods. A thunderstorm went through the area on Sat afternoon. The total species list along with numbers of individuals can be seen below. The spotted salamanders were represented solely from larvae observed in a pond and some anuran species numbers were augmented by larvae or by individual males calling during the weekend. These numbers are marked with an asterisk (*) and the total represents a minimum count for that species. Presence of a species in each county or on the scout reservation is indicated with a checkmark.
The MHA would like to thank the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Missouri Department of Conservation for providing permission to use public land for the survey. Special appreciation is extended to Bob Krager, Tammy Gilmore, and Len Gilmore for providing assistance in locating collecting localities. Finally, the Boy Scouts of America and the Bartle Scout Reservation were extremely generous to provide a camping site and a large area for part of the survey. In particular, we would like to thank Judy Flett and John Christiansen for their helpful nature and hospitality.
The Second Annual Missouri Herpetological Association (MHA) Spring Field Trip will be held on Sat 26 May 2007 at and within the vicinity of H Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in Saint Clair Co MO. The purpose of the trip (in priority order) is to a) search for historical populations of the Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata), b) document species found on the reservation, and c) search for new and updated records in the three-county area of Saint Clair, Benton, and Henry Co MO.
The Ground Snake was documented in the vicinity of Osceola by Paul Anderson in The Reptiles of Missouri in the mid 1900s. These records represent the extreme northernmost population of this species in Missouri and are apparently isolated from populations in southern Missouri and eastern Kansas. Searches during the early 1980s failed to locate any specimens and it was suggested that Truman Lake now covers the original site. However, rumors and stories exist that suggest that some populations of this small western snake might still be extant in the area.
We’ve made arrangements to stay two nights at the Reservation and they have given us an area for primitive camping (no electricity) Fri and Sat night at no cost. Because we need a rough estimate of the number of people that will be there, please let us know by Fri 11 May 2007 if you plan on attending and staying at least one night. If you think you might be able to go but aren’t sure, please let us know that, too. It’s not a big deal if you say you’re going to be there now but have to cancel later. Also, if you plan on attending but do not want to say Fri or Sat night, there is no need to RSVP. The rendezvous to plan the day’s outing will be at 9am at the Pioneer Trails site (east side of the area map below).
Motel accommodations are available in nearby Osceola or Warsaw. Everyone should plan to bring food for their own meals. A possible plan for overnight campers is to bring something to throw on the grill and a side dish to share with everyone.
Trained herpetologists will lead groups of participants, verify the identification and locality of the amphibians and reptiles collected, obtain photo documentation and maintain species counts. After verification most animals will be released at the site of capture. Individuals with valid Missouri Wildlife Collecting Permits may retain selected specimens for research or display at accredited institutions.
Individuals of all ages are welcome to participate; however, adults should accompany young children. Participants should dress appropriately for the weather and are advised to wear long pants and stout boots while in the field. Leather gloves, hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, and water are also recommended. Participants with digital cameras and GPS units are encouraged to bring them to help document the survey. Potential drivers should bring road atlases and area maps as the field trip will likely involve exploring areas outside of the reservation. Individuals should also provide their own lunches.
Results of the fieldtrip, including photos of animals and participants, will be published in the 2007 MHA Newsletter and / or on the Association’s web site.