About the Research:
This research seeks to determine the impacts of microgeographic features and changing seasonal climate variables on the phenology of local herpetological species including terrestrial amphibians and reptiles in San Francisco North Bay protected areas which are deemed critical to protect for conservation purposes.
This research also creates and implements a long-term herpetofauna survey protocol using plywood coverboards while supporting the development of methods to apply citizen science monitoring efforts by volunteer biological monitors using a natural history mobile application (iNaturalist). These two project sites provide substantial opportunity to establish a baseline herpetofaunal phenology data set while simultaneously incorporating existing and developing programs to support longer-term monitoring efforts. Herpetofauna data has been collected since February 2014 and will continue to be collected to establish baseline data. Citizen science efforts have been incorporated into the iNaturalist Herpetofauna Project which includes 1,549 observations including a new distribution record for Black Salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus).
A series of large wildfires swept through northern California in October 2017, burning over 245,000 acres. The Tubbs Fire, which grew to become the most destructive wildfire in the history of California, burned large swaths of protected lands in the Mayacamas Mountains including one of the research sites (Pepperwood Preserve) and elsewhere. Investigation on the effects of wildfire and other environmental variables on the amphibian and reptile communities of these areas continue.
Pepperwood Preserve experiencing the Tubb’s Fire. Pepperwood Preserve in the Mayacamas Mountains on fire on October 8, 2017. Tubb’s Fire has been determined to be California’s most destructive wildlife. Photo by Greg Damron.
Pepperwood Preserve, October 8, 2017. Photo by Greg Damron.
Pepperwood Preserve post fire. Photo credit to Pepperwood Preserve.
All coverboards burned in the forest plots at least partially. Half of coverboards burned in the canopy edge plots. Grassland cover boards were only scorched.
Amphibians taking refuge underneath a coverboard in the forest post fire. Can you find the Ensatina and the California Slender Salamander?
Southern Alligator Lizard adjacent to (presumably) its own burned shedded shin. First survey (Nov. 14, 2017) post fire. This is the most extreme evidence of impact to herpetofauna from the fire.
Aquatic Garter Snake first survey post fire (Nov. 14, 2017).
Turtle Pond, Pepperwood Preserve in Mayacamas Mountains burned everywhere but not the pond edge unlike the other pond site within the preserve. Future stats will determine if the lack of fire around the Turtle Pond edge provided a refuge for herps.
Powered by coffee, apple crumb and blueberry muffins, the Sonoma State University Biology Club gets ready for a good workout in the name of science (December 2013).
Distributing 108 – 1/2-inch thick 2’X4′ plywood coverboards at two different sites within Fairfield Osborn Preserve on Sonoma Mountain is not a job for wimps.
Realizing the wheel chart is useless on the steep and narrow trails, the coverboards are hauled up on our back, on our head, or however possible.
Dropping off coverboards at frozen Kelly Pond. Pfew!
An undergraduate researcher participating in this project finds an Ensatina near the Fairfield Osborn Preserve Education Center.
Herpetofauna Project coverboard labels inform non-participants about the research project while minimizing coverboard disturbance.
A rodent runs from underneath a pile of coverboards stored at Pepperwood Preserve’s Turtle Pond parking area.
High school student researchers setting up a transect at Pepperwood Preserve. January 5, 2014.
More high school student researchers setting up a transect at Pepperwood Preserve. January 5, 2014.
Naturalist “Curious George” and the amazing IB high school group. Newly set Redwood Pond transects are in the background.
Just a friendly Jerusalem Cricket under an ancient coverboard at Double Ponds, Pepperwood Preserve. Not only are they not true crickets, they are not native to Jerusalem. These nocturnal insects feed primarily on dead organic matter but can also eat other insects.
Dr Derek Girman, SSU Biology Club members and other SSU undergraduate students power through cold rain and wind in the middle of a terrible drought. Not everyone was lucky enough to remember their snow goggles.
Feb. 2, 2014.
Snake Photo Bomb!