07 Gaines Caruso EMO 2007 r1

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Information about 07 Gaines Caruso EMO 2007 r1

Published on December 6, 2007

Author: Margot

Source: authorstream.com

SCOPING UNDERGROUND REFUGIA TO DETECT EASTERN INDIGO SNAKES (DRYMARCHON CORAIS COUPERI) IN CENTRAL FLORIDA :  SCOPING UNDERGROUND REFUGIA TO DETECT EASTERN INDIGO SNAKES (DRYMARCHON CORAIS COUPERI) IN CENTRAL FLORIDA Fred Gaines, M.S., PWS – Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise Kristin Caruso M.S. – Scheda Ecological Associates, Inc. Slide2:  Western Beltway Part C Slide3:  Western Beltway Part C Slide4:  Avatar Tract USACE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS:  USACE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS Implement standard protection measures - provide educational materials for construction personnel - cease clearing activities if a snake is observed in work area; allow snake to leave site on its own - provide instructions if dead or injured snake is observed Install silt fence to limit emigration of snakes into project Install special fencing for protected plants USACE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS:  USACE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS Scope “all potentially suitable eastern indigo snake denning areas (e.g., gopher tortoise burrows [active, inactive, and abandoned]) within the project right-of-way…for the presence of eastern indigo snakes” Obtain appropriate handling permits for the species Transport and immediately release all captured eastern indigo snakes outside of the silt fence at the right-of-way line EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE:  EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE Threatened in Florida (1971- F.A.C. 68A-27.004) Threatened in U.S. (1978- 43 FR 4028) No Critical Habitat (USFWS) Causes of decline - habitat loss and fragmentation - pet trade - chemical poisoning EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE:  EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE Florida and Georgia range Utilizes variety of natural and human-modified habitats Largest non-venomous snake in North America Diet consists of frogs, snakes, small mammals POTENTIAL PRESENCE ON-SITE:  POTENTIAL PRESENCE ON-SITE USFWS determined the project area supported the species: Large project size (800 acres) Appropriate habitats Prevalence of gopher tortoise burrows Observation of 2 individuals during 2001 surveys Slide10:  HABITAT - UPLANDS 623 acres citrus grove pasture pine plantation Slide11:  HABITAT - UPLANDS 623 acres herbaceous/dry prairie xeric oak palmetto prairie pine flatwoods Slide12:  HABITAT - WETLANDS 111 acres marsh forested Slide13:  METHODS Locating potential underground refugia Refugia Types Gopher tortoise burrows Nine-banded Armadillo burrows Eastern cottontail burrows Unidentified animal burrows tree stump holes Refugia Size > 12 inches in length > 4 inches in width Slide14:  METHODS Locating potential underground refugia Pedestrian transects Flagging tape GPS ID number GIS database Slide15:  Scope Specifications Day/night camera 30-foot tubing External monitor to display interior of burrows Scope Timing Keep ahead of clearing activities March 2004 – September 2004 November 2004 – January 2005 Many refugia scoped multiple times METHODS Scoping potential underground refugia Slide16:  Basic Data ID number Current status Refugia type Refugia length General notes METHODS GIS Database Observation Data Date Field biologist Species observed Notes Action taken Action needed Slide17:  RESULTS Slide18:  RESULTS Slide19:  RESULTS Slide20:  RESULTS Slide21:  RESULTS Slide22:  No individuals observed 1,020 refugia sites examined - 83% gopher tortoise burrows - 14% armadillo burrows - 3% “other” First scoping event Reached terminus of refugia with scope: 77% Stopped scoping at contact point with animal: 17% Obstruction/unsure of terminus: 6% RESULTS Slide23:  Species Observed in Refugia Gopher tortoise Eastern coachwhip snake Florida scrub lizard Southern toad Gopher frog Greenhouse frog Southern cricket frog Virginia opossum Unidentified mouse RESULTS WHY DIDN’T WE FIND ANY EASTERN INDIGO SNAKES?:  WHY DIDN’T WE FIND ANY EASTERN INDIGO SNAKES? Potential low utilization of refugia Alternative refugia Survey methodology Large home range Differential habitat use POTENTIAL LOW UTILIZATION OF REFUGIA:  POTENTIAL LOW UTILIZATION OF REFUGIA Northern distribution Snakes use refugia during cold temperatures - 88% (Georgia) (Speake et al. 1978) -45% (N. Florida) (Smith 1987) - 51˚F threshold for snake activity (Speake et al. 1978) Central and Southern distribution Less temperature dependency (cold) 70˚F diurnal temps for our project No data on high temperatures EASTERN INDIGO SNAKES IN CENTRAL FLORIDA MAY NOT BE AS DEPENDENT ON UNDERGROUND REFUGIA AS COMPARED TO NORTHERN POPULATIONS ALTERNATE REFUGIA:  ALTERNATE REFUGIA Many forms of refugia are difficult or impossible to scope Plant debris Loose soil Root holes Land crab and other small animal holes Piles of logs Roadside refuse IT IS NOT FEASIBLE TO EXAMINE ALL POTENTIAL REFUGIA SURVEY METHODOLOGY:  SURVEY METHODOLOGY No definitive method to accurately survey for eastern indigo snakes (USFWS) Drift fences with funnel or box traps Traps at gopher tortoise burrow entrances Opportunistic observations and visual searches Road surveys Scoping Backhoe excavation Pheromones? EACH TESTED METHOD HAS ITS LIMITATIONS- MOST ARE TIME AND LABOR-INTENSIVE WITH POTENTIAL TO MISS INDIVIDUALS LARGE HOME RANGE:  LARGE HOME RANGE Florida Telemetry Data 180 acres for males (winter) 104 acres for males (summer) (Layne & Steiner 1996) 84-875 acres for females (annual) 346-3,781 acres for males (annual) (Hyslop 2007) THE CHANCES OF FINDING AN EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE AT A SPECIFIC PLACE AND TIME IS FAIRLY REMOTE DIFFERENTIAL HABITAT USE:  DIFFERENTIAL HABITAT USE Movement and home range are affected by: Age Sex Reproductive status of females Resource availability Seasonality EXAMINING UPLAND HABITATS AND UNDERGROUND REFUGIA MICROHABITATS MAY NOT BE SUFFICIENT FOR FINDING EASTERN INDIGO SNAKES SURVEY RECOMMENDATIONS:  SURVEY RECOMMENDATIONS Multiple survey techniques? Examine a range of habitat types? Survey all seasons? POLICY, PERMITTING & PROTECTION:  POLICY, PERMITTING & PROTECTION March 23, 2007 USFWS letter response to USACE Multi-County Programmatic Concurrence Request 10 Counties affected: Broward Indian River Martin Miami-Dade Monroe Determination Key Okeechobee Osceola Palm Beach Polk St. Lucie POLICY, PERMITTING & PROTECTION:  POLICY, PERMITTING & PROTECTION permit for project impacts of: A B < 25 acres xeric habitat > 25 acres xeric habitat < 25 gopher tortoise burrows > 25 gopher tortoise burrows (active/inactive) (active/inactive) “NLAA” “may affect” will be conditioned to require: 1. Standard protection measures 2. “Evacuation” of gopher tortoise burrows 3. Inspection of all other refugia each morning POLICY, PERMITTING & PROTECTION:  POLICY, PERMITTING & PROTECTION 2007 USFWS guideline is based on research in northern portion of species’ range We lack information on species’ habitat utilization in peninsular Florida “evacuating” gopher tortoise burrows in central and south Florida may not be the best method to protect the eastern indigo snake RECOMMENDATIONS TO BETTER PROTECT THE EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE:  RECOMMENDATIONS TO BETTER PROTECT THE EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE Designate and manage Critical Habitat Preserve mosaic of natural habitats “Evacuate” refugia only during times of temperature extremes Gather more data on species’ life history and habitat utilization QUESTIONS?:  QUESTIONS?

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