Master of Science (M.S.)
Degree Granting Department
Henry Mushinksy, Ph.D.
Earl McCoy, Ph.D.
Susan Bell, Ph.D.
Florida scrub habitat is a naturally fire maintained habitat that is highly endangered because of great demand for land for agriculture and real estate. Maintenance of remaining patches ofFlorida scrub habitat requires active management. We experimentally investigated the effects of clearcutting and burning on sand skink populations in three patches of sand pine scrub. Each patch included a clearcut plot, a burned plot, and an undisturbed plot. Treatment plot boundaries were drawn in 1995 such that each plot was no different from any other plot in sand skink densities. The responses of sand skink and other herpetofauna populations were monitored over the following five-year period (1996-2000) immediately following clearcutting and burning.
Initially, sand skink captures in the burned and clearcut plots were lower than in the undisturbed plots. Over the five-year period, sand skink captures significantly increased in the clearcut plots. No clear trend occurred in the burned plots, although fluctuations from year to year were significant. After treatment, number of sand skink captures differed among treatment plots within each site. The treatments also did not affect sand skink distributions within the sites in the same way among the sites. The distribution of sand skinks within the three sites appeared to be influenced by an interaction between treatment plot and microhabitat characteristics. Sand skink presence has been related previously to low soil compaction, large soil particle size, low soil moisture, low soil temperature, large amounts of loose sand and bare ground, and low average understory vegetation. The treatment plot in which the sand skinks were found in the greatest numbers may have been more a function of the microhabitat characteristics rather than the treatment. Analysis o f the distribution of individuals also indicated that sand skink distribution was clumped, especially near the centers of the three sites.
Analysis of herpetofaunal data from the experimental sites indicated that toward the end of the study, the number of species captured appeared to be converging among the undisturbed, clearcut, and burned plots. Diversity estimates, however, which incorporate number of individuals as well as number of species, indicated that the burned and undisturbed plots had greater herpetofaunal diversity than the clearcut plots. Comparisons were made with other studies performed in north central Florida (Ocala National Forest) and southern Florida.
Scholar Commons Citation
Gianopulos, Kristie D., "RESPONSE OF THE THREATENED SAND SKINK (NEOSEPS REYNOLDS!) AND OTHER HERPETOFAUNAL SPECIES TO BURNING AND CLEARCUTTING IN THE FLORIDA SAND PINE SCRUB HABITAT" (2001). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.