The Missouri Herpetological Association held its fourth annual spring field trip on the weekend of 8 – 10 May 2009 at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Iron County, Missouri, and nearby areas.

Nine members, representing six different institutions, caught or observed more than 297 individual reptiles and amphibians, representing a total of 32 species. Most collecting activity occurred on Sat 9 May 2009, but some individual animals were caught on Friday. The entire weekend was characterized by pleasant evening temperatures and warm daytime conditions. Saturday began cloudy and overcast, but the sun appeared late in the morning and the high temperature for the day approached 80oF. Habitats searched included woodlands, glades, streams, ponds, rivers, and roads. A thunderstorm with historic wind damage occurred on Fri 8 May 2009 and several trees in the park were uprooted or otherwise permanently damaged. Many local residents in the areas remained without power as the group left the area Saturday night or Sunday morning.

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.

Several new localities were documented for Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, including an “open circle” county record (i.e., previously reported record that lacks a supporting voucher) (Great Plains Ratsnake (Pantherophis emoryi)) and three new county records: Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris), Southern Coal Skink (Plestiodon anthracinus), and Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). The Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica) was not caught within the park boundary but represents a county record for Iron County. The total species list along with numbers of individuals can be seen below. Several species of anurans were well-represented with calling individuals. The counts below that are designated with a plus (+) symbol are minimum estimates of the number of individuals observed for those species. The North American Racer (Coluber constrictor) and Western Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae) were each represented by a single dead individual.

Species Common Name Number Photos
Notophthalmus viridescens Central Newt 1 Photo
Eurycea longicauda Long-tailed Salamander 1 Photo
Plethodon albagula Western Slimy Salamander 9 Photo
Plethodon serratus Southern Red-backed Salamander 3 No photo from this location
Anaxyrus americanus American Toad 16+ Photo
Hyla chrysoscelis Cope’s Gray Treefrog 25+ No photo from this location
Acris crepitans Northern Cricket Frog 23+ Photo
Pseudacris crucifer Spring Peeper 13+ Photo
Lithobates clamitans Green Frog 12+ No photo from this location
Lithobates palustris Pickerel Frog 3 Photo
Lithobates sphenocephalus Southern Leopard Frog 16+ No photo from this location
Crotaphytus collaris Eastern Collared Lizard 12 Photo
Sceloporus consobrinus Prairie Lizard 100 Photo
Plestiodon anthracinus Southern Coal Skink 1 Photo
Plestiodon fasciatus Common Five-lined Skink 13 Photo Photo
Scincella lateralis Little Brown Skink 14 Photo
Ophisaurus attenuatus Western Slender Glass Lizard 2 No photo from this location
Carphophis vermis Western Wormsnake 3 Photo
Coluber constrictor North American Racer 1 No photo from this location
Diadophis punctatus Ring-necked Snake 5 No photo from this location
Lampropeltis getula Speckled Kingsnake 2 Photo Photo
Lampropeltis triangulum Red Milksnake 2 Photo
Nerodia sipedon Northern Watersnake 1 No photo from this location
Pantherophis emoryi Great Plains Ratsnake 1 Photo Photo
Tantilla gracilis Flat-headed Snake 4 Photo
Virginia valeriae Western Smooth Earthsnake 4 No photo from this location
Agkistrodon contortrix Copperhead 1 Photo Photo
Crotalus horridus Timber Rattlesnake 1 Photo Photo
Chelydra serpentina Eastern Snapping Turtle 1 No photo from this location
Graptemys geographica Northern Map Turtle 1 Photo
Terrapene carolina Three-toed Box Turtle 4 No photo from this location
Apalone spinifera Spiny Softshell 2 No photo from this location

The MHA would like to thank the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for providing permission to use state park property for the field trip. Special appreciation is extended to Tim Turpin for his hospitality and for leading the group on Saturday.

Group Photograph

Spring 2009 Field Trip Group Photograph

Standing (left to right): Michael Cravens (SEMO), Kenneth Bader (KU), Drew Dittmer (MDC), Jeff Briggler (MDC), Quinn, Tim Turpin (DNR), Kaycee Cannon, Richard Daniel (UMC), Brian Edmond (MSU), Michelle Bowe (MSU)
Key: DNR=Missouri Department of Natural Resources, KU=University of Kansas, MDC=Missouri Department of Conservation, MSU=Missouri State University, SEMO=Southeast Missouri State University, UMC=University of Missouri at Columbia.
Photo by: Michael Cravens

Other Photographs

Original Announcement

The spring 2009 field trip will be held at Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, near Ironton in Iron and Reynolds Counties, Missouri on Sat 9 May 2009. The group campground has been reserved for those who wish to spend the weekend at the park. Survey activities will be conducted throughout the entire weekend with the bulk of work occuring on Saturday. Check this site, the upcoming newsletter, and your e-mail inbox for more details!

The Missouri Herpetological Association will hold the 2009 Spring Field Trip Saturday, May 9. This year we will conduct a herpetofaunal survey of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park SW of Ironton in Iron and Reynolds Counties. The organized count will be conducted between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. We will assemble at Group Campsite B (see map). The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Taum Sauk Mountain State Park covers approximately 7500 acres The park is located within the St. Francois Mountains and includes the highest point (Taum Sauk Mountain) at 1772 ft. and Mina Sauk Falls, the highest waterfall in the state. The park consists primarily of Ozark forestland with rhyolite glades, ponds, and ephemeral and permanent streams. We will conduct a survey of both terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

We have reserved group campsite B at the park on Friday and Saturday nights where primitive camping is available for a nominal charge of $1/person/night. Motel accommodations are available in nearby Ironton. Overnight campers should bring food and drink for their own meals. Additional information, including maps and directions, is available on the park home page

Trained herpetologists will lead groups of participants, verify 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 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. Individuals should provide their own lunches.

Results of the field trip will be posted on the MHA website and published in the 2009 MHA newsletter.