Crayfish traps have proved to be a more successful technique than minnow traps for trapping aquatic salamanders. At both Okefenokee NWR and Ordway Preserve, crayfish traps caught substantially more animals than minnow traps, most likely because of funnel placement within the water column. These salamanders spend the majority of their time in muck and/or heavy vegetation, not open water. Crayfish traps are trapping animals as they move along the bottom substrate. This is consistent with other studies that have captured sirens by staking minnow traps to the bottom (Raymond 1991, Gehlbach pers. comm.).
Baiting appears to have no noticeable effect on overall trap success. There was little difference in the number of animals caught in baited vs. unbaited traps. However, more A. means were caught in baited traps than S. lacertina, indicating these species may respond differently to baiting. Capture success was approximately equal between trap nights at both study sites, suggesting that increasing the number of trap nights from one to four does not affect the number of daily captures.
Capture rates differ between months and among species. This may suggest that Siren and Amphiuma have different seasonal activity patterns. After a full year of trapping has been completed, more information will be available to address this question.
Numerous marking methods were tested on Siren and Amphiuma including: cyano-acrylic, toe clipping, tail notching/clipping, heat branding, and PIT tags. Of these, PIT tags are the only reliable method for long-term studies of these species. Results from this mark-recapture study will produce density estimates for both sites, as well as provide information on activity and movement patterns.
Darby, P.C., P.L. Valentine-Darby, H.F. Percival, and W.M. Kitchens. 2001. Collecting Florida applesnails (Pomacea paludosa) from wetland habitats using funnel traps. Wetlands 21(2): 308-311.
Gehlbach, F.R., and S.E. Kennedy. 1978. Population ecology of a highly productive aquatic salamander (Siren intermedia). The Southwestern Naturalist 23(3): 423-430.
Machovina, B.L. 1994. Ecology and life history of the salamander Amphiuma means in Everglades National Park. M.S. thesis. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Raymond, L.R. 1991. Seasonal activity of Siren intermedia in northwestern Louisiana (Amphibia: Sirenidae). The Southwestern Naturalist. 36:144.
Snodgrass, J.W., J.W. Ackerman, A.L. Bryan, Jr., and J. Burger. 1999. Influence of hydroperiod, isolation, and heterospecifics on the distribution of aquatic salamanders (Siren and Amphiuma) among depression wetlands. Copeia 1999:107-113.
This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Interior, Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI). I graciously thank Lora Smith, Franklin Percival and Ken Dodd for their support and advice, along with Ordway Preserve and Okefenokee NWR Refuge. I would also like to thank the following people for their field assistance: Lora Smith, Maya Zacharow, Audrey Owens, Chris Gregory, Matt Chopp, Jennifer Staiger, Paul Loud, and Steve Johnson.