Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fun with herps

My Fiancee Nikki is doing her master's project on the breeding ecology of Skinks. For those who don't know Skinks are lizards from the family Scincidae, the largest and most diverse family of lizards. In general skinks have very little neck and usually have relatively reduced limbs, in some genera in fact they have no legs at all, which contributes to the myth that Skinks are or are related to snakes. Despite being the most common or only types of lizards in many areas, very little is known about skink biology. Nikki has two different study sites in the Stillwater area, one in a crosstimbers forest for woodland species, and one in a large old field for grassland species.

Anyway occassionally helping Nikki with her fieldwork helps me get my herp fix (I have always been interested in reptiles and amphibians nearly as much as birds). So I enjoy going out with her and trying to catch not only skinks but the many other species of reptiles and amphibians that she catches in her traps and under her cover boards. Here are some pictures of some of the various critters we have been collecting this spring.

Here we have a Ring-necked snake, a common snake species at the woodland site.

Here we see a juvenile five-lined skink in a bag! Nikki doesn not want him to escape, check out his beautiful blue tail.

This species occurs almost exclusively at the woodland site.

Here we have a Woodhouse's Toad, the grassland site can get quite marshy after rain and we see quite a few amphibians here.

Here we have a Strecker's Chorus Frog, this is a relatively range restricted species native to the southern plains

This beauty is a Speckled King Snake, a gorgeous black and yellow/green speckled constrictor snake, they eat rodents as well as other snakes and lizards.

Here Nikki teaches her minions a little bit about the biology of the Speckled King Snake.

Here we have a Small-mouthed Salamander, the only regularly occuring Salamander in the Stillwater area, I love Salamanders as much as birds, they are awesome!

Here I contemplate a world without Salamanders.

Nikki pit tags all of her Skinks, this way she can tell who she has captured already, as she is doing a mark/recapture study. This allows her to discover all sorts of things about skink natural history.

Here a beautiful southern prairie skink awaits his turn for a pit tag. This species occurs only in prairie habitat like the grassland site, it has a very restricted range and very little is known about it.

1 comment:

  1. mmm, i doth miss a good skink o' blue-tail - the Prin campus had oodles... Abilene is lacking, but Waco seems promising (more leaf litter!) but anyway, great to see a herp post, i reeeallly need to get matt out into the herping side of things, but i'm still an über rookie myself..