JCSET | Sigma Xi Poster Competition

Title

Use of Restored Wetlands by Herpetofauna in Western Kentucky

Presenter Information

John ConnockFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Biology/Watershed Sciences

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Howard Whiteman, PhD.

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Wetlands are a crucial ecosystem that support a vast array of aquatic and terrestrial communities yet they have suffered significant losses in recent centuries. The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) was created to restore degraded wetlands and create new ones on private land through conservation easements. The goal of this program is to restore practical function of wetlands as well as provide habitat that supports a diverse array of biotic communities. Our primary objective with this study was to quantify amphibian and reptile diversity in WRP and other wetlands within the Jackson Purchase in Kentucky. Study sites include WRP easements of various restoration ages, historic bottomland forested wetlands (reference), as well as unrestored cropland wetlands (control). We used timed-constrained dipnet surveys to survey for larval amphibians and baited hoop nets to capture turtles. From September 2019 to August 2021, we captured 3227 amphibians and 677 individual turtles (711 total captures), representing 15 and 8 species respectively. We calculated Shannon diversity metrics for both taxa. Amphibian diversity was similar between cropland and WRP sites, which were both slightly higher when compared to reference wetlands. Reference and WRP wetlands supported higher levels of turtle diversity than control wetlands. This study will add to our knowledge base regarding wetland restoration, and provide managers with important data to inform future restoration initiatives for herpetofauna and other wildlife while also maximizing wetland function.

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Sigma Xi Poster Competition

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Use of Restored Wetlands by Herpetofauna in Western Kentucky

Wetlands are a crucial ecosystem that support a vast array of aquatic and terrestrial communities yet they have suffered significant losses in recent centuries. The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) was created to restore degraded wetlands and create new ones on private land through conservation easements. The goal of this program is to restore practical function of wetlands as well as provide habitat that supports a diverse array of biotic communities. Our primary objective with this study was to quantify amphibian and reptile diversity in WRP and other wetlands within the Jackson Purchase in Kentucky. Study sites include WRP easements of various restoration ages, historic bottomland forested wetlands (reference), as well as unrestored cropland wetlands (control). We used timed-constrained dipnet surveys to survey for larval amphibians and baited hoop nets to capture turtles. From September 2019 to August 2021, we captured 3227 amphibians and 677 individual turtles (711 total captures), representing 15 and 8 species respectively. We calculated Shannon diversity metrics for both taxa. Amphibian diversity was similar between cropland and WRP sites, which were both slightly higher when compared to reference wetlands. Reference and WRP wetlands supported higher levels of turtle diversity than control wetlands. This study will add to our knowledge base regarding wetland restoration, and provide managers with important data to inform future restoration initiatives for herpetofauna and other wildlife while also maximizing wetland function.