SREL Reprint #2153

 

 

 

 

Perceptions of Species Abundance, Distribution, and Diversity: Lessons from Four Decades of Sampling on a Government-Managed Reserve

J. WHITFIELD GIBBONS,1* VINCENT J. BURKE,1 JEFFREY E. LOVICH,2 RAYMOND D. SEMLITSCH,3 TRACEY D. TUBERVILLE,1 J. RUSSELL BODIE,1 JUDITH L. GREENE,1 PETER H. NIEWIAROWSKI,1 HOWARD H. WHITEMAN,1 DAVID E. SCOTT,1 JOSEPH H. K. PECHMANN,1 CHRISTOPHER R. HARRISON,4 STEPHEN H. BENNETT,5 JOHN D. KRENZ,1 MARK S. MILLS,1 KURT A. BUHLMANN,1 JOHN R. LEE,1 RICHARD A. SEIGEL,6 ANTON D. TUCKER,7 TONY M. MILLS,1 TRIP LAMB,8 MICHAEL E. DORCAS,9 JUSTIN D. CONGDON,1 MICHAEL H. SMITH,1 DAVID H. NELSON,10 M. BARBARA DIETSCH,11 HUGH G. HANLIN,11 JEANNINE A. OTT,1 AND DENO J. KARAPATAKIS1

ABSTRACT: We examined data relative to species abundance, distribution, and diversity patterns of reptiles and amphibians to determine how perceptions change over time and with level of sampling effort. Location data were compiled on more than one million individual captures or observations of 98 species during a 44-year study period on the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site National Environmental Research Park (SRS-NERP) in South Carolina. We suggest that perceptions of herpetofaunal species diversity are strongly dependent on level of effort and that land management decisions based on short-term data bases for some faunal groups could result in serious errors in environmental management. We provide evidence that acquiring information on biodiversity distribution patterns is compatible with multiyear spatially extensive research programs and also provide a perspective of what might be achieved if long-term, coordinated research efforts were instituted nationwide.

To conduct biotic surveys on government-managed lands, we recommend revisions in the methods used by government agencies to acquire and report biodiversity data. We suggest that government and industry employees engaged in biodiversity survey efforts develop proficiency in field identification for one or more major taxonomic groups and be encouraged to measure the status of populations quantitatively with consistent and reliable methodologies. We also suggest that widespread academic cooperation in the dissemination of information on regional patterns of biodiversity could result by establishment of a peer-reviewed, scientifically rigorous journal concerned with status and trends of the biota of the United States.

KEY WORDS: Abundance; Amphibian; Biodiversity; Distribution; Land management; Reptile

1Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA
2National Biological Service, P.O. Box 2000, Palm Springs, California 92258, USA
3University of Missouri, Biological Sciences, Columbia, Missouri 6521 1, USA
4Texas A&M University, Fisheries and Wildlife, College Station, Texas 77843, USA
5South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Heritage Trust Program, Columbia, South Carolina 29202, USA
6Southeastern Louisiana University, Department of Biology, Hamidond, Louisiana 70402, USA
7University ofqueensland, Department ofzoology, Brisbane, Australia 4072
8East Carolina University, Department of Biology, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, USA
9Idaho State University, P.O. Box 8007, Pocatello, Idaho 83209, USA 10University of South Alabama, Department of Biology, Mobile, Alabama 35487, USA
11University of South (' arolina-Aiken, Department of Biology, Aiken, South Carolina 29801, USA
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

SREL Reprint #2153

Gibbons, J.W., V.J. Burke, J.E. Lovich, R.D. Semlitsch, T.D. Tuberville, J.R. Bodie, J.L. Green, P.H. Niewiarowski, H.H. Whiteman, D.E. Scott, J.H.K. Pechmann, C.R. Harrison, S.H. Bennett, J.D. Krenz, M.S. Mills, K.A. Buhlmann, J.R. Lee, R.A. Seigel, A.D. Tucker, T.M. Mills, T. Lamb, M.E. Dorcas, N.B. Frazer, J.D. Congdon, M.H. Smith, D.H. Nelson, M.B. Dietsch, H.G. Hanlin, J.A. Ott, and D.J. Karapatakis. 1997. Perceptions of species abundance, distribution, and diversity: lessons from four decades of sampling on a government-managed reserve. Environmental Management 21:259-268.

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