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Publication Information

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Title: Evolution and management of the North American grassland herpetofauna

Author: Scott, Norman J. Jr.;

Date: 1996

Source: In: Finch, Deborah M., Editor. Ecosystem disturbance and wildlife conservation in western grasslands - A symposium proceedings. September 22-26, 1994; Albuquerque, NM. General Technical Report RM-GTR-285. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. p. 40-53.

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: The modern North American grassland herpetofauna has evolved in situ since the Miocene. Pleistocene glaciation had a minimal effect except in the far North, with only minor displacements of some species. South of the glaciers, winters were warmer and summers cooler than at present. Snakelike reptiles, leaping frogs, and turtle "tanks" are favored adaptive types in uniform dense grassland. A typical fauna consists of about 10-15 species, mostly snakes. Special habitat components, such as streams and ponds, bare ground, sand, trees, prairie dog towns, and rocky outcrops, add distinct suites of species. There is also an increase in species number from north to south and west to east. Grassland use and management, such as prairie dog control, off-road vehicle traffic, and brush removal, have demonstrable effects on the herpetofauna. However, the effects of three of the most widespread management procedures - water development, grazing, and fire - are largely unstudied. Although highly fragmented, the majority of species of grassland reptiles and amphibians are widespread and populations are resilient, but there are special conservation problems associated with Pleistocene relicts with limited distributions.

Keywords: riparian ecosystems, human dimensions, hydrology, ecology, history, restoration

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Scott, Norman J., Jr. 1996. Evolution and management of the North American grassland herpetofauna. In: Finch, Deborah M., Editor. Ecosystem disturbance and wildlife conservation in western grasslands - A symposium proceedings. September 22-26, 1994; Albuquerque, NM. General Technical Report RM-GTR-285. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. p. 40-53.

 


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