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View Full Version : Proposed Field Herping Trip, approx 3/14-3/18


John
1st March 2011, 07:13
Just posting to gauge interest. I'm considering a field trip to either the Ozarks and Ouachitas region, or perhaps southern Virginia/eastern TN/western NC. The dates would be the week starting Sunday 3/13 and I'd probably come home on the Friday. I'm alright with doing it on my own, but curious to see if anyone else is interested. Post or PM me. I plan on camping, fyi. This is very much a "bring your own", but I can act as tour guide :P, particularly for Ouachitas/Ozarks, or TN/western NC.

John
1st March 2011, 07:21
I should add that I'm really a salamander-only kind of field herper. Any frogs and reptiles that run across my path are fine but I certainly don't go looking for them.

If you want to get an idea of what's involved on the Ouachitas and Ozarks trip, look at this (http://www.caudata.org/forum/f1173-advanced-newt-salamander-topics/f1159-fieldwork-fieldherping/f1160-field-herping-accounts/61856-ozarks-ouachita-mountains-spring-2009-warning-heavy-images.html).

Kaysie
1st March 2011, 14:37
Bah! I've been looking for an excuse to go to the Ouachitas, but I'm going to LA that weekend.

ozarkhellbender
1st March 2011, 16:47
Where are you going in the Ozarks?

John
1st March 2011, 18:50
I would be driving down through them on my way there because of where I live, so I'll probably stop in several places. Once "arrived", it would likely be the southwestern end, as far north as about Fayetteville AR, maybe a little farther north for some cave adventures.

Kaysie
1st March 2011, 23:33
If you swing by Southern Illinois, let me know. I'm super-busy Monday-Wednesday, but don't have a whole lot going on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. I can take you down Snake Road, which, despite it's name, has a high number of migrating amphibians too.

John
1st March 2011, 23:37
My route looks like I'll go through Mt Vernon IL but then turn directly south heading into MO.

Kaysie
1st March 2011, 23:39
Mt. Vernon isn't directly north of MO. But if you're heading south of Mt. Vernon, you'll go through Carbondale (where I live), and within minutes of Snake Road.

John
2nd March 2011, 18:57
Comparing the Smokeys/Blue Ridge area to the Central Highlands weatherwise, they look pretty similar for mid March (looking at historic temperature averages and the current extended forecast). However given the relatively low temperatures, the chances of finding salamanders are higher in the Central Highlands, so that's what I'm leaning towards.

jaster
3rd March 2011, 03:47
If you want to see some spotted sals, we have them coming out soon up here....

Kaysie
3rd March 2011, 22:27
Brad will stand you up!


(Just kidding. I don't hold it against you.)

John
3rd March 2011, 23:05
If you want to see some spotted sals, we have them coming out soon up here....
Thanks but I've seen those all over the country!

Logan
4th March 2011, 17:20
Kaysie is right, Larue Pine hills is great. I can't go there without finding Plethodon dorsalis under every log it seems. You find a great variation of salamanders though. In one trip down there I found a siren, central newts (adults and efts), spotted salamanders, longtails, caves, zig zags by the dozens, and slimy salamanders. Also plenty of frogs and ring neck snakes at the right time.

Anyway even if you don't stop there have fun, nothing better than a herp adventure. I will be in the keys/everglades at that time. Good luck.
Logan

John
8th March 2011, 17:54
Ok I'm in the final stages of my planning. I think it's going to be the Ozarks and Ouachitas due to temperature considerations. My route is going to take me somewhat north of where I thought, Kaysie, heading through St. Louis. Any thoughts?

Kaysie
9th March 2011, 03:45
There's a reptile expo in St. Louis on Sunday 13th. I've been considering going.

Other than that, I'm 2 hours south of St. Louis. If you're heading to Ouachitas, you could come down this way, cut south to Arkansas (it's about 4 hours from here to Little Rock), and then cut over to Ouachitas. Although herping through the Mark Twain Natl. Forest (SW of St. Louis) through Missouri would be cool too. Thomas (http://www.caudata.org/forum/members/13644/ozarkhellbender.html) lives over that way.

FrogEyes
9th March 2011, 05:45
Dang, that would put you a short distance [relatively] of a search for Plethodon ainsworthi! There should be plenty of places to look other than at or near the type locality. I wish I could join you, as Bay Springs and the Ouachitas have been on my wish list for a while :S

ozarkhellbender
9th March 2011, 14:29
There's a reptile expo in St. Louis on Sunday 13th. I've been considering going.

Other than that, I'm 2 hours south of St. Louis. If you're heading to Ouachitas, you could come down this way, cut south to Arkansas (it's about 4 hours from here to Little Rock), and then cut over to Ouachitas. Although herping through the Mark Twain Natl. Forest (SW of St. Louis) through Missouri would be cool too. Thomas (http://www.caudata.org/forum/members/13644/ozarkhellbender.html) lives over that way.

Indeed I do. I'm in the extreme southwestern corner of Missouri. Mark Twain Natl. Forest is a beautiful area. Just around my property I've been finding Plethodon albagula lately, they starting to become more active. If you go through the Branson area, you could stop by Shepherd of the Hills State Fish Hatchery, they have a hellbender breeding program with both Ozark and Eastern Hellbenders. They aren't on display, but I believe you get a tour on request of the hellbender building.

Kaysie
9th March 2011, 15:04
Dang, that would put you a short distance [relatively] of a search for Plethodon ainsworthi!

Talk about a wild goose chase! That species is extinct, and originally was only known from 2 specimens found in one site 50 years ago.

Jennewt
9th March 2011, 15:57
If you go through the Branson area, you could stop by Shepherd of the Hills State Fish Hatchery, they have a hellbender breeding program with both Ozark and Eastern Hellbenders. They aren't on display, but I believe you get a tour on request of the hellbender building.
Now ya tell me! I went to that hatchery in December. I talked to the person there about hellbenders, but didn't think to ask if I could see the facility. They have a program for hellbenders where they try to give the young a head-start by hatching and raising them in captivity until they are a decent size, then releasing them. The eggs come from the wild though, they aren't CBing them. The hatchery is worth seeing, even if you don't get to see the hellbenders.

FrogEyes
9th March 2011, 16:47
Talk about a wild goose chase! That species is extinct, and originally was only known from 2 specimens found in one site 50 years ago.
It's PRESUMED extinct. Richard Highton reported possibly seeing specimens in a recent search, but they escaped. No-one has ever searched under "ideal" wet spring conditions. There also doesn't seem to be any good reason they WOULD be extinct, nor why they would have been restricted to the one location to begin with. There are plenty of reasons they wouldn't be found apart from actual extinction, and most of them amount to not searching properly.

ozarkhellbender
9th March 2011, 17:44
Now ya tell me! I went to that hatchery in December. I talked to the person there about hellbenders, but didn't think to ask if I could see the facility. They have a program for hellbenders where they try to give the young a head-start by hatching and raising them in captivity until they are a decent size, then releasing them. The eggs come from the wild though, they aren't CBing them. The hatchery is worth seeing, even if you don't get to see the hellbenders.

Yeah, the larvae they have right now were hatched from eggs they collected, but they have adults on station they are attempting to breed last time I was there. I was an intern at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery the summer of 2009 and I went up with some hatchery biologists to get a tour of the Shepherd of the Hills facility. I'm sure they wold give individuals a tour upon request, they are pretty nice up there.

Kaysie
9th March 2011, 19:48
It's PRESUMED extinct. Richard Highton reported possibly seeing specimens in a recent search, but they escaped. No-one has ever searched under "ideal" wet spring conditions. There also doesn't seem to be any good reason they WOULD be extinct, nor why they would have been restricted to the one location to begin with. There are plenty of reasons they wouldn't be found apart from actual extinction, and most of them amount to not searching properly.

IUCN lists it as extinct. They usually don't go out on that limb unless they're pretty sure.

And searches have been done on 1 March 1991; 23 April 1991; 17 July 1991; 4 June 1992; 20–21 May 1994; 14–16 December 1994; 8 and 20 February 1995; 11 and 23 March 1995; 3 and 13 April 1995; and 27 February 1997. That's 14 different searches. In Mississippi, it's pretty wet in February and March, and sometimes into April. I'm not sure why this wouldn't be 'ideal' or how many more searches you'd need to convince you otherwise.

Plethodontids are not known for their elusiveness. They're not, by nature, all that hard to find. They don't burrow, they rarely retreat too far underground. And Highton said he might have caught a glimpse of one. Anyone who has ever been field herping knows how difficult it is to ID a salamander to a species level from a split-second glance. It's just impossible, especially in a genus where all members look fairly similar. I don't buy it.

Regardless, Jasper Co. is 7 hours the other way of where John is headed.

John
19th March 2011, 09:19
Just got back. Here's the list by state:

Texas
Ambystoma opacum
Ambystoma talpoideum
Ambystoma maculatum (just eggs and larvae)

Oklahoma
Plethodon sequoyah
Siren intermedia nettingi
Plethodon ouachitae (just the Winding Stair Phase this time)
Plethodon serratus
Eurycea lucifuga
Eurycea longicauda melanopleura
Eurycea spelea

Arkansas
Plethodon albagula
Plethodon angusticlavius
Ambystoma maculatum
Plethodon caddoensis
Plethodon serratus
Desmognathus brimleyorum

Indiana (stopped off on the way home)
Plethodon cinereus
Plethodon electromorphus
Plethodon dorsalis
Eurycea cirrigera

Didn't get to Fourche Mountain this time around, hence no Plethodon fourchensis. Also didn't go fishing for Eurycea tynerensis. Didn't see any Eurycea multiplicata this time.

Shepard of the Hills don't have any Ozark Hellbenders on site right now so I didn't visit there.

I've been on the road since Sunday, so total about 6 days, solo.