Herpetofaunal Use of Edge and Interior Habitats in Urban Forest Remnants

by Daniel E. Dawson and Mark E. Hostetler

Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611


While we know that reptiles and amphibians make use of urban forest remnants, little research has been conducted on whether certain species use edges and interiors of remnants to different extents. In our investigation, we used pitfall traps, funnel traps, and PVC pipe sampling arrays to survey the presence of herpetofauna in five urban forest remnants (between 3.0 and 16.6 hectares in size) in Gainesville, Florida, during the summers of 2005 and 2006. We then compared the average daily relative abundances of individual species and taxa groups (at order and suborder levels and also at the family level), as well as species richness and compositional similarity at edge locations (defined as 20 to 40 meters toward the interior from the remnant boundary) and interior locations (defined as over 40 meters from the remnant boundary). Our results showed that edge and interior locations did not differ in either the relative abundance of individual herpetofaunal species and taxa groups or species richness. In addition, our analysis of species composition showed that most remnants had very similar compositions at their edges and interiors. Furthermore, our vegetative analyses showed very few vegetative differences between edge and interior locations. Despite the lack of a difference in edge and interior habitat use by herpetofauna, a finding possibly due to a lack of difference in vegetative structure, study results did show that urban forest remnants serve as habitat to some herpetofaunal species that can tolerate conditions within small patches.

Key words: urban, herpetofauna, reptiles, amphibians, herps, edge, interior, habitat isolation, habitat use, forest remnant, habitat fragmentation