Herpetofauna of the Kissimmee River Floodplain Prior to

Herpetofaunal Distribution and Occurrence on the Kissimmee River Floodplain Prior to
Lawrence Glenn
South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33414
Channelization of the Kissimmee River resulted in the loss of approximately 14,000 ha of
floodplain wetlands and substantially altered hydrologic characteristics of remaining
wetland habitats. Amphibians and reptiles were identified as critical biological
components for assessing restoration of the Kissimmee River ecosystem due to their role
in food web dynamics, complex life cycle, including obligate association of most larvae
with water, and vulnerability to anthropogenic shifts in wetland hydrology.
Herpetofaunal surveys were conducted in four floodplain habitats between 1996 and
1999 to document habitat-specific abundance, community structure, and spatial and
temporal patterns of reproduction prior to restoration. Visual encounter surveys (VES)
indicate herps were most abundant in broadleaf marsh and woody shrub, moderately
abundant in wetland forest, and least abundant in pasture. Habitat-specific species
richness followed a similar trend, while species diversity and community evenness were
low in all habitats. Larval salamanders were present on the floodplain only from
December through April, while larval anurans were present 7 months of the year.
Species richness of larval amphibians was greatest in broadleaf marsh (14) and woody
shrub (10), and lowest in pasture (4). Species richness and abundance of larval and adult
amphibians and reptiles are expected to increase following restoration of floodplain
habitats. Twenty-four herp species are expected to occur in restored floodplain habitats,
with larvae present during most of the year.
Lawrence Glenn, South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road, West
Palm Beach, FL 33406, Phone: 561-682-6499, FAX: 561-682-5704, Email:
lglenn@sfwmd.gov, Oral, Agro-Ecology and Ecosystem Restoration – Kissimmee River