Amphibians and reptiles are both important members of aquatic and terrestrial ecocsystems. Each group serves as both predators and prey. Amphibians and reptiles are viewed as indicators of ecosystem health. They are sensitive to a variety of threats and, thus, can serve as early indicators of ecosystem change when monitored over long time scales. Changes in populations can often be linked to one of the following causes, all of which suggest a decrease in overall ecosystem health:
Theese changes in ecosystem health may exhibit in measurable changes in distribution, occupancy, abundance, species richness, and increases in disease. These changes have a cascading effect on other spects of the ecosystem, such as predator/prey/competitor populations, energy flow and nutrient cycling.
Our main research goal is to provide indicators of environmental health and change by monitoring the distribution and population trends of amphibians and reptiles on the Idaho National Laboratory Site.
We monitor amphibian and reptile populations for several reasons:
Additionally, this project provides venomous snake safety training to INL Site employees and summer assistants. This training provides key information on how to avoid and treat bites from venomous snakes. It also helps workers place the relatively low risk of snakebite in perspective and fosters an appreciation of the ecological role of snakes on the INL Site. Finally, this project assists in the training and support of undergraduate and graduate students in environmental research.
Spadefoot Toad Tadpoles at the Lost River Sinks
The INL Site is home to one amphibian species, the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (Spea intermontana) and nine reptile species:
Great Basin Rattlesnake
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