AMPHIBIAN AND REPTILE COLONIZATION OF RECLAIMED COAL SPOIL GRASSLANDS
Keywords:population, recruitment, colonization, reclamation, coal mining
While habitat loss is a major driver of amphibian and reptile declines globally, a subset of post-industrial landscapes, reclaimed and restored, are creating habitat for these animals. In a previous work, we showed that amphibians and reptiles use reclaimed and restored grasslands. In the present work we quantify captures at drift-fence/pitfall trap arrays over two consecutive years and show that several species of amphibians are not only successfully reproducing but that juveniles are being recruited into the population. In particular, 15,844 amphibians and 334 reptiles representing 25 species (14 amphibians, 11 reptiles) were captured at drift fences in 2009 and 2010. Nine additional reptile species were found opportunistically while conducting other research activities at the study site. Out of a total of 8,064 metamorphosing juveniles we detected 126 malformations, a 1.6% rate. The major malformation types were limbs missing (amelia) or foreshortened (ectromely), eye discolorations, and digits foreshortened (ectrodactyly) or small (brachydactyly). Our data show that reclaimed, restored, and properly managed landscapes can support reproducing populations of amphibians and reptiles with low malformation rates, including species in decline across other portions of their range.
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