Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Integrated Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Donald Merkle, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Paul W. Sattler, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dana P. Johnson, M.S.


This thesis establishes baseline data on the herpetofauna that exist in Powhatan county. No systematic study of the amphibians and reptiles in Powhatan county has ever been conducted. The methods used in this survey include hand capture, egg mass observations, road kill collections, and frog call surveys. Documentation of each species collected included measurements, photographs, range maps, and tape recordings.

This survey produced 8 species of salamanders, 11 anurans, 6 turtles, 4 lizards, and 14 snakes. Based on records in the Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles of Virginia (Mitchell & Reay, 1999), 11 new county records were discovered. This brings county totals to 9 species of salamanders, 12 anurans, 6 turtles, 5 lizards, and 16 snakes.

Road kill surveys found that vehicular traffic kills at least 1 species of frog,1 species of salamander, 4 species of turtles, and 8 species of snakes. Bufo fowleri (Fowler's toad) was the most commonly killed frog, Notophthalmus virtdescens viridescens (red-spotted newt) was the most commonly killed salamander, Terrapene caroljna carolina (eastern box turtle) and Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum (common mud turtle) were tied in being the most commonly killed turtles, and Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta (black rat snake) was the most commonly killed snake.

Many sensitive areas of amphibian reproduction, such as the breeding sites for Gastrophryne carolinensis (eastern narrow-mouthed toad), Ambystoma opacum (marbled salamander), and Ambystoma macul atum (spotted salamanders), have been found and documented on range maps. Baseline information on the number of eggs per egg mass, and mortality rates have been established. Eighteen sites have been evaluated for relative abundance of frogs through late winter, spring, and summer.



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