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Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians

Amphibians and reptiles are both important members of aquatic and terrestrial ecocsystems. Each group serves as both predators and prey. Amphibians and reptiles are viewed as indicators of ecosystem health. They are sensitive to a variety of threats and, thus, can serve as early indicators of ecosystem change when monitored over long time scales. Changes in populations can often be linked to one of the following causes, all of which suggest a decrease in overall ecosystem health:

  • Pollution
  • Introduced species
  • Drought
  • Habitat destruction
  • Disease
  • Ultraviolet radiation

Theese changes in ecosystem health may exhibit in measurable changes in distribution, occupancy, abundance, species richness, and increases in disease. These changes have a cascading effect on other spects of the ecosystem, such as predator/prey/competitor populations, energy flow and nutrient cycling.

Amphibians and Reptiles on the INL Site

Our main research goal is to provide indicators of environmental health and change by monitoring the distribution and population trends of amphibians and reptiles on the Idaho National Laboratory Site.

We monitor amphibian and reptile populations for several reasons:

  • As an indicator of environmental health and change
  • For management of specific populations of sensitive species
  • For meeting NEPA requirements regarding the siting of future developments
  • For avoiding potentially dangerous snake-human interactions
  • For providing a basis for future research into the ecological importance of these species

Additionally, this project provides venomous snake safety training to INL Site employees and summer assistants. This training provides key information on how to avoid and treat bites from venomous snakes. It also helps workers place the relatively low risk of snakebite in perspective and fosters an appreciation of the ecological role of snakes on the INL Site. Finally, this project assists in the training and support of undergraduate and graduate students in environmental research.

Spadefoot Toad Tadpoles at the Lost River Sinks

Amphibians and Reptiles on the INL Site

The INL Site is home to one amphibian species, the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (Spea intermontana) and nine reptile species:

  • Leopard Lizard (Gamebia wislinzenii)
  • Short-hornded Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi)
  • Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus)
  • Western Skink (Eumeces skiltonianus)
  • Rubber Boa (Charina bottae)
  • Desert Striped Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus)
  • Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
  • Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans)
  • Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis lutosus)

Great Basin Rattlesnake

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