University of Kansas Field Station

Amphibians and Reptiles

Forty species of amphibians and reptiles have been found on the University of Kansas Field Station. Approximately 70 percent of the 56 species in the local herpetofauna have been recorded on the northern tracts of the Field Station (Fitch Natural History Reservation, Nelson Environmental Study Area, and Rockefeller Experimental Tract). Missing are 8 fluviatile species: Necturus maculosus, Graptemys pseudogeographica, Trachemys scripta, Trachemys floridana, Apalone mutica, Apalone spinifera, Nerodia erythrogaster, Nerodia rhombifera; also 7 floodplain or wetland species: Ambystoma texanum, Rana areolata, Bufo cognatus, Thamnophis proximus, Thamnophis radix, Regina grahami, Sistrurus catenatus; 3 forest species: Eumeces anthracinus, Opheodrys aestivus, Storeria occipitomaculata; and one arenicolous species, Heterodon platirhinos.

The Fitch Natural History Reservation (FNHR) has been sampled the most thoroughly of all Field Station areas, with thousands of records based upon almost continuous live trapping over a 50-year period by Henry S. Fitch. Fitch has noted changes in the herpetofauna at FNHR over the last few decades as ecological succession from open habitats (field, pasture, and prairie) to brush and woodland eliminated some species, while reducing the abundance of others. However, some of the species eliminated from FNHR due to successional shifts in habitat are found in managed areas on the adjacent Rockefeller Tract and NESA. Six of the species in our lists (Ambystoma tigrinum, Spea bombifrons, Chrysemys picta, Terrapene carolina, Elaphe guttata and Lampropeltis getula) are thought to have reached northern tracts of the Field Station as occasional dispersers from more favorable habitats, or to have been brought and released by people, but without establishing permanent populations. More species may be found on the Field Station with increased sampling of areas little surveyed thus far, most notably the forested habitat of the Baldwin Woods Area.

The herpetofauna of the Field Station is representative of the ecotonal (transitional) area between the forest to the east and the Great Plains grasslands dominating to the west. Of the 40 species occurring on the Field Station, 7 are transcontinental in distribution; 9 are characteristic of the Great Plains; 1 is mainly western, and the remaining 23 species (57%) are most characteristic of the Eastern Deciduous Forest Biome. Of the 23, 12 have overall ranges corresponding well with the Forest Biome; 8 others have ranges extending west far into the Great Plains grasslands, while 3 range southward into the tropics.

This checklist is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the herpetofauna of the KU Field Station. General information on ecology and abundance of many of these species, and others in the region, can be found in Collins (1982), Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Likewise, broader information on herptile abundance and natural communities in the region can be obtained by contacting the Kansas Biological Survey. Detailed information on the ecology of the herpetofauna of the Field Station can be found in the scores of scientific publications based on research at the Field Station, especially those by H. S. Fitch. Specific questions as to abundance and ecology of Field Station species, and current emphasis of ecological research, can be obtained by contacting the Field Station administrative office. An extensive research collection of amphibians and reptiles is housed at the Natural History Museum on the main campus of the University of Kansas.

In the accompanying lists, species are presented in phylogenetic sequence by family and scientific and common (species or subspecies) names follow Conant and Collins (1991), Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. A generalized key to abundance and occurrence is given with the following codes: a=abundant, m=moderately abundant, r=rare, s=single record of occurrence, and i=introduced species with no extant population. Acknowledgement to Henry S. Fitch for providing this information.

Checklist of Field Station Amphibians and Reptiles

    Ambystoma tigrinum Eastern Tiger Salamander r
    Spea bombifrons Plains Spadefoot r
    Anaxyrus americanus Eastern American Toad m
    Anaxyrus woodhousii Woodhouse's Toad m
    Acris crepitans Blanchard's Cricket Frog a
    Hyla chrysoscelis Cope's Gray Treefrog m
    Pseudacris triseriata Western Chorus Frog m
    Lithobates blairi Plains Leopard Frog a
    Lithobates catesbeianus Bullfrog a
    Gastrophryne olivacea Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad m
    Chelydra serpentina Snapping Turtle m
    Chrysemys picta Midland Painted Turtle s
    Terrapene carolina Three­toed Box Turtle s
    Terrapene ornata Ornate Box Turtle r
    Crotaphytus collaris Eastern Collared Lizard i
    Aspidoscelis sexlineata Six­lined Racerunner r
    Plestiodon anthracinus Northern Coal Skink r
    Plestiodon fasciatus Five­lined Skink a
    Plestiodon obsoletus Great Plains Skink m
    Plestiodon septentrionalis Northern Prairie Skink r
    Scincella lateralis Ground Skink m
    Ophisaurus attenuatus Western Slender Glass Lizard m
    Carphophis vermis Western Worm Snake m
    Coluber constrictor Eastern Yellowbelly Racer a
    Diadophis punctatus Prairie Ringneck Snake a
    Pantherophis emoryi
Great Plains Rat Snake r
    Pantherophis obsoletus Black Rat Snake m
    Lampropeltis calligaster Prairie Kingsnake m
    Lampropeltis getula Speckled Kingsnake r
    Lampropeltis triangulum Red Milk Snake m
    Nerodia sipedon Northern Water Snake m
    Pituophis catenifer Bullsnake r
    Storeria dekayi Texas Brown Snake m
    Storeria occipitomaculata Northern Redbelly Snake r
    Tantilla gracilis Flathead Snake r
    Thamnophis sirtalis Red­sided Garter Snake a
    Tropidoclonion lineatum Lined Snake r
    Virginia valeriae Western Earth Snake r
    Agkistrodon contortrix Osage Copperhead m
    Crotalus horridus Timber Rattlesnake r