Herpetofaunal Responses to Restoration Treatments of Longleaf Pine Sandhills in Florida

Authors

  • Andrea R. Litt,

    1. University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611, U.S.A.
    2. The Nature Conservancy, Disney Wilderness Preserve, 2700 Scrub Jay Trail, Kissimmee, FL 34759, U.S.A.
    3. Address correspondence to A. R. Litt, email arlitt@ag.arizona.edu
    4. Current address: School of Renewable Natural Resources , University of Arizona, 104 Biological Sciences East, Tucson, AZ 85721, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Louis Provencher,

    1. The Nature Conservancy, Disney Wilderness Preserve, 2700 Scrub Jay Trail, Kissimmee, FL 34759, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • George W. Tanner,

    1. University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Richard Franz

    1. Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Box 112710, Gainesville, FL 32611, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

The hypothesis that habitat restoration will provide for community reestablishment and the creation of habitat heterogeneity was examined with regards to the herpetofauna of longleaf pine sandhills in northwest Florida. The herpetofaunal response to restoration was examined in fire-suppressed, hardwood-dominated areas treated with (1) spring fire; (2) felling or girdling; or (3) a granular form of the herbicide hexazinone. No-treatment controls were also included. Felling or girdling and herbicide plots were burned for fuel reduction two dormant seasons after initial treatment application. Additionally, data were collected in frequently burned reference sandhills to establish the target condition or restoration goal. Vegetation variables and herpetofaunal capture rates were compared among control and treatment areas. Two similarity indices were utilized to compare treatments and controls with reference sites, to examine restoration success. Restoration treatment effects were observed through reduced hardwood densities. Litter composition varied among control and treatment plots, with leaf litter being highest in areas lacking recent fire. Capture rates of some herpetofaunal species varied significantly among treatment plots. In 1997 similarity indices showed that spring-burned and felling or girdling plots were more similar to the reference sandhills than the other plots. Treated plots were not significantly different from controls in 1998, a year of a severe drought.

Ancillary