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2009 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 8(4):639–652
The Herpetofauna of the Camp Shelby Joint Forces
Training Center in the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi
James R. Lee*
Abstract - The Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC) is a 54,315-
ha National Guard training installation located in the Piney Woods subprovince
of the Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic region of south-central Mississippi. A list
of 108 native amphibian and reptile species possibly occurring on the CSJFTC was
generated using known geographic distribution ranges and museum records. General
herpetofaunal field-collecting techniques were used to survey the CSJFTC’s
aquatic and terrestrial habitats from April 2004–April 2007. Eighty-three native
and one introduced species were identified, comprising 59% of the state’s known
(excluding marine species) and 77% of the CSJFTC’s suspected herpetofauna. Ten
species listed as needing special protection by state or federal agencies occur at the
site, including Crotalus adamanteus, Gopherus polyphemus, Lampropeltis calligaster,
Masticophis flagellum, Micrurus fulvius, Ophisaurus attenuatus, Pituophis
melanoleucus, Pseudacris ornata, Pseudotriton ruber, and Regina rigida. This information
will be useful in directing future monitoring efforts and when developing
management plans on the CSJFTC.
Amphibians and reptiles serve as indicators of environmental quality,
and are an integral part of natural ecosystems throughout the world (Gibbons
et al. 2000, Wake and Vredenburg 2008). Declines noted in both of these
vertebrate classes over the past few decades have drawn the attention of scientists
interested in elucidating the causes of these declines (Gibbons et al.
2000, and references therein), and contingent upon the species, population,
or community under discussion, various explanations have been proposed
(Blaustein and Kiesecker 2002, Gibbons et al. 2000, Lannoo 2005, McCallum
2007). Unfortunately, many areas throughout the world lack essential
baseline data pertaining to herpetofaunal abundance and distribution; therefore,
conclusions regarding population trends are often limited (Bury 2006,
McCallum and McCallum 2006).
Biotic inventories are conducted to accurately describe and list the species
present for a given area (Heyer et al. 1994). Initial inventories often:
precede monitoring or research upon communities and populations (Tuberville
et al. 2005); serve as baseline data against which changes in species
composition and patterns of dispersion for a specific site can be measured
(Bury 2006, Gibbons et al. 1997); and may provide direction for effective
conservation efforts and land management programs (Bury 2006, Dorcas
et al. 2006). In the United States, amphibian and reptile species richness
*The Nature Conservancy, CSJFTC-ENV Building 622, Camp Shelby, MS 39407;
640 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 8, No. 4
is greatest in the Southeast, and nearly 100 of the species found in the region
are considered endemic (Conant and Collins 1998, Dorcas et al. 2006,
Tuberville et al. 2005). Unfortunately, knowledge of amphibian and reptile
diversity, distribution, and abundance in many areas of the Southeast is
lacking (Dorcas et al. 2006, McCallum and McCallum 2006). Mississippi
is no exception, and published documentation related to the distribution of
herpetofauna throughout the state is sparse (see Lohoefener and Altig 1983,
and references therein).
My goal was to identify the amphibian and reptile species occurring on
the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in southern Mississippi, comment
on the apparent relative abundance of each species, identify species in
need of monitoring, and make this information readily available to future
researchers and land managers.
The Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC), located in Forrest,
George, and Perry counties, MS (Fig. 1), is one of the largest National
Guard Training installations in the United States, with the total installation
area estimated at 54,315 ha. The majority of the land (87%) is owned by
the United States Forest Service (USFS) (Epperson and Heise 2003), and
Figure 1.The Camp Shelby Joint forces Training Center in southern Mississippi.
2009 J.R. Lee 641
the military is allowed to use selected areas of the DeSoto National Forest
for training activities under a renewable Special Use Permit. Training activities
at the CSJFTC primarily include troop bivouacking, wheeled-vehicle
maneuvers, artillery firing exercises, and tank training maneuvers by M-1
tanks and the Bradley fighting vehicle (B. Lemire, Mississippi Army National
Guard, Jackson, MS, pers. comm.). The CSJFTC has had an Integrated
Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) in effect since August 2001
(B. Lemire, pers. comm.); readers unfamiliar with INRMPs are referred to
Gregory et al. (2006, and references therein) for a discussion of INRMP history,
general objectives, and recommendations. The public is allowed to use
the majority (≈90%) of the CSJFTC for various recreational activities (e.g.,
hunting, fishing, etc.).
The CSJFTC is situated within the Piney Woods subprovince of the Gulf
Coastal Plain physiographic region of Mississippi (Cross et al. 1974), and
lies within the Pascagoula River Basin. The major sub-basins in the region
are the Black Creek and Leaf River (Ross 2001), neither of which fl ow
directly through the CSJFTC, but numerous permanent and intermittent
tributaries of each transect the site (see Michener 1947). The predominant
topography is fl at to hilly, with topographic relief caused by stream dissection
ranging from 5–15 m between depressions and ridge tops. Numerous
habitats exist within the CSJFTC. Upland habitats include Pinus palustris
Miller (Longleaf Pine), mixed hardwood (e.g., Carya spp. [hickory], Quercus
spp. [oak]), and mixed pine-hardwood forests (see Yager 2007 and Yager
et al. 2007 for a more detailed description of upland habitats). Lowland
habitats include Sarracenia spp. (pitcher plant) wetlands/savannahs, mixed
pine-hardwood bottomland forests (e.g., Pinus elliottii Engelm [Slash Pine],
Nyssa spp. (gum), Persea borbonia Miller [Red Bay]), citronelle ponds,
pine fl atwoods, beaver impoundments, ephemeral ponds, streams, and manmade
lakes and ponds (Folkerts 1997, Johnston and Figiel 1997, Michener
1947). Embedded within both the upland and lowland habitats are ruderal
areas such as powerlines, roadsides, and military training areas (e.g., artillery
firing points, ranges, and wetland crossings). Numerous structures (e.g.,
barracks, bunkers, office buildings, and warehouses) are found throughout
the CSJFTC, the majority of which are located in the northwest corner of the
installation (i.e., cantonment area). Similarly, the density of roads is highest
within the cantonment area (Fig. 1).
Prior to initiating field surveys, I generated a list of within-range reptile
and amphibian species for the CSJFTC based upon published geographic
range maps (Conant and Collins 1998), regional accounts (Cliburn 1959a,
1959b, 1976, 1979; Cook 1954, 1957a, 1957b; Lohoefener and Altig 1983),
museum records (R. Jones, Mississippi Museum of Natural Sciences, Jackson,
MS, unpubl data), and an unpublished inventory of Camp Shelby (Leonard
et al. 2000). Based upon range maps in Cliburn (1976), Conant and Collins
(1998), and other locality records, I categorized species as either potentially
642 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 8, No. 4
occurring on the CSJFTC or peripheral to the study site, similar to an inventory
recently conducted in South Carolina (see Dorcas et al. 2006).
Sampling was conducted 3–5 days per week from April 2004–April 2007.
Initially (April 2004–March 2005), sampling efforts were concentrated in
upland habitats, but starting in April 2005, the project’s scope was broadened
to include lowland/wetland habitats. Due to Hurricane Katrina, no sampling
was conducted from 29 August–29 September 2005. Basic sampling consisted
of general herpetological field-collecting techniques, including anuran
calling surveys, dipnetting, road cruising, systematic searches in favorable
habitat, and turning cover objects. Basic sampling was usually conducted
during the daylight hours, but on a number of occasions (3–5 days per month,
specifically when weather conditions were conducive to salamander migrations
and/or calling anurans), I sampled during the evening hours. Intensive
sampling was conducted at four terrestrial and nine aquatic sites within the
study area. These sites were selected because they were representative of
the habitats found on the CSJFTC. Twenty trap arrays were constructed at
the four terrestrial sites. Fourteen trap arrays were similar in design to those
described by Burgdorf et al. (2005). The remaining trap arrays consisted of a
drift fence (i.e., sedimentation fence; height = 0.9 m, length = 90 m) buried
to a depth of 0.1 m, six box traps (height and width = 0.6 m, length = 1.2 m)
constructed of hardware cloth (6-mm mesh) and plywood, and five 19-liter
pitfall traps. Box traps, equipped with a rectangular funnel entrance (height
= 7.6 cm, length and width = 30.5 cm) and one-way funnel door, were placed
at each end, and on alternating sides, of drift fences (Fig. 2). Pitfall traps
were also placed between each box trap, on alternating sides of drift fences
(Fig. 2). Twenty-four minnow traps (see Keck 1994), anuran calling surveys,
systematic dipnetting, and five turtle traps were used to sample each of the
nine aquatic sites. All traps (aquatic and terrestrial) were monitored daily,
and during the hotter times of the year (i.e., late spring through early fall),
each trap was shaded with several layers of vegetation to prevent desiccation
or overheating of potential captives. Most turtles and every snake captured
were individually measured and marked following standard methods (e.g.,
Brown and Parker 1976, Cagle 1939, Conant and Collins 1998). All trapping
locations and the location of each individual captured were recorded using
a handheld GPS unit and are stored in the Mississippi Army National Guard
(MSARNG) GIS database for future re-sampling of these sites and for reference
purposes. The nomenclature of Crother (2000) and subsequent revisions
(Crother et al. 2001, 2003) are followed throughout. The scientific authority
and common name for all species mentioned are provided in Tables 1 and 2.
Based upon the published distributions, regional accounts, and other locality
records, I determined that 108 of Mississippi’s 140 native amphibian
and reptile species (excluding marine species) could possibly occur on the
CSJFTC, of which, 83 species were documented (i.e., 21 anurans, 13 salamanders,
1 crocodilian, 8 turtles, 9 lizards, and 31 snakes; Tables 1 and 2).
2009 J.R. Lee 643
One introduced species was also documented (see below). Ten species listed
as needing special consideration by the Mississippi Natural Heritage Program
(i.e., “tracked” species) were found on the CSJFTC.
A total of fifteen Hemidactylus turcicus were found on the CSJFTC. The
first individual, a juvenile, was documented on 16 August 2005 in the cantonment
area (Building 6600); nine additional individuals were found within
300 m of this location in 2006 (n = 3) and 2007 (n = 6). On 2 December
2006 at 1300 h, a gentleman was observed dumping a truckload of leaves
alongside Forest Service Road 304 D. The individual indicated that he was a
resident of Hattiesburg and that he had been dumping leaves at this location
for years (because he could not burn them within the city limits); the leaf pile
contained five H. turcicus (2 adults, and 3 juveniles).
Gopherus polyphemus and Pituophis melanoleucus are state endangered
in Mississippi and are afforded some degree of federal protection (threatened
Figure 2. Alternate trapping design used to capture terrestrial herpetofauna on the
Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, showing, a trap array in Longleaf Pine
habitat (A), close up of a side trap (B), an end trap (C), and an array schematic (D)
with circles, and rectangles representing bucket and box traps, respectively. See text
for array dimensions.
644 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 8, No. 4
and candidate species for listing by the United States Fish and Wildlife
Service, respectively; USFWS 1987, 2007). Both species were found to
be relatively abundant on the CSJFTC, particularly in Longleaf Pine and
Table 1. Peripherally occurring, potentially occurring, and documented amphibians of the Camp
Shelby Joint Forces Training Site in Mississippi. Documented species are classified as rare (<5
observations), vulnerable (5–10 observations), uncommon (11–20 observations), common (21–
50), or abundant (>50 observations). * denotes “species of special concern” in Mississippi.
Latin name Common name Status
Acris crepitans Baird Northern Cricket Frog Vulnerable
A. gryllus (LeConte) Southern Cricket Frog Abundant
Bufo fowleri Hinckley Fowler’s Toad Common
B. nebulifer Girard Gulf Coast Toad Peripheral
B. quercicus Holbrook Oak Toad Uncommon
B. terrestris (Bonnaterre) Southern Toad Abundant
Gastrophryne carolinensis (Holbrook) Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad Abundant
Hyla avivoca Viosca Bird-voiced Treefrog Common
H. chrysoscelis Cope Cope’s Gray Treefrog Abundant
H. cinerea (Schneider) Green Treefrog Abundant
H. femoralis Bosc Pine Woods Treefrog Common
H. gratiosa LeConte Barking Treefrog Abundant
H. squirella Bosc Squirrel Treefrog Abundant
Pseudacris crucifer (Wied-Neuwied) Spring Peeper Abundant
P. feriarum (Baird) Southeastern Chorus Frog Vulnerable
P. nigrita (LeConte) Southern Chorus Frog Abundant
P. ornata (Holbrook) Ornate Chorus Frog* Rare
Rana catesbeiana Shaw American Bullfrog Abundant
R. clamitans Latreille Green Frog Abundant
R. grylio Stejneger Pig Frog Peripheral
R. heckscheri Wright River Frog* Peripheral
R. palustris LeConte Pickerel Frog Rare
R. sevosa Goin & Netting Dusky Gopher Frog* Potential
R. sphenocephala Cope Southern Leopard Frog Abundant
Scaphiopus holbrookii (Harlan) Eastern Spadefoot Abundant
Ambystoma maculatum (Shaw) Spotted Salamander Potential
A. opacum (Gravenhorst) Marbled Salamander Common
A. talpoideum (Holbrook) Mole Salamander Common
A. texanum (Matthes) Small-mouthed Salamander Potential
A. tigrinum (Green) Tiger Salamander* Potential
Amphiuma means Garden Two-toed Amphiuma Common
A. tridactylum Cuvier Three-toed Amphiuma Potential
Desmognathus auriculatus (Holbrook) Southern Dusky Salamander Common
D. conanti Rossman Spotted Dusky Salamander Abundant
Eurycea cirrigera (Green) Southern Two-lined Salamander Abundant
E. guttolineata (Holbrook) Three-lined Salamander Abundant
E.quadridigitata (Holbrook) Dwarf Salamander Vulnerable
Hemidactylium scutatum (Temminck and Four-toed Salamander* Potential
Schlegel in Von Siebold)
Necturus beyeri Viosca Gulf Coast Waterdog Vulnerable
Notophthalmus viridescens Rafinesque Eastern Newt Uncommon
Plethodon mississippi Highton Mississippi Slimy Salamander Abundant
Pseudotriton montanus Baird Mud Salamander* Potential
P. ruber (Latreille) Red Salamander* Common
Siren intermedia Barnes Lesser Siren Common
2009 J.R. Lee 645
Table 2 (continued on next page). Peripherally occurring, potentially occurring, and documented
reptiles of the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Site in Mississippi. Documented
species are classified as rare (<5 observations), vulnerable (5–10 observations), uncommon
(11–20 observations), common (21–50), or abundant (>50 observations). * denotes “species of
special concern” in Mississippi.
Latin name Common name Status
Alligator mississippiensis (Daudin) American Alligator Vulnerable
Apalone mutica (Lesueur) Smooth Softshell Potential
A. spinifera (Lesueur) Spiny Softshell Potential
Chelydra serpentina (Linnaeus) Snapping Turtle Common
Deirochelys reticularia (Latreille) Chicken Turtle Rare
Gopherus polyphemus (Daudin) Gopher Tortoise* Abundant
Graptemys fl avimaculata Cagle Yellow–blotched Map Turtle* Potential
G. gibbsoni Lovich and McCoy Pascagoula Map Turtle* Potential
Kinosternon subrubrum (Lacepède) Eastern Mud Turtle Abundant
Macrochelys temminckii (Troost in Harlan) Alligator Snapping Turtle* Potential
Pseudemys concinna (LeConte) River Cooter Abundant
Sternotherus carinatus (Gray) Razor-backed Musk Turtle Potential
S. minor (Agassiz) Loggerhead Musk Turtle Potential
S. odoratus (Latreille) Stinkpot Abundant
Terrapene carolina (Linnaeus) Eastern Box Turtle Abundant
Trachemys scripta (Schoepff) Pond Slider Abundant
Anolis carolinensis (Voigt) Green Anole Abundant
Aspidoscelis sexlineata (Linnaeus) Six-lined Racerunner Common
Eumeces anthracinus (Baird) Coal Skink Potential*
E. fasciatus (Linnaeus) Common Five-lined Skink Abundant
E. inexpectatus Taylor Southeastern Five-lined Skink Abundant
E. laticeps (Schneider) Broad-headed Skink Uncommon
Hemidactylus turcicus (Linnaeus) Mediterranean House Gecko1 Uncommon
Ophisaurus attenuatus Cope Slender Glass Lizard* Rare
O. mimicus Palmer Mimic Glass Lizard* Potential
O. ventralis (Linnaeus) Eastern Glass Lizard Rare
Sceloporus undulatus (Bosc & Daudin in Eastern Fence Lizard Abundant
Sonnini and Latreille)
Scincella lateralis (Say in James) Little Brown Skink Abundant
Agkistrodon contortrix (Linnaeus) Copperhead Abundant
A. piscivorus (Lacepède) Cottonmouth Abundant
Carphophis amoenus (Say) Eastern Wormsnake Rare
Cemophora coccinea (Blumenbach) Scarletsnake Common
Coluber constrictor Linnaeus Eastern Racer Abundant
Crotalus adamanteus Palisot de Beauvois Eastern Diamond-backed Abundant
Crotalus horridus Linnaeus Timber Rattlesnake Potential
Diadophis punctatus (Linnaeus) Ring-necked Snake Uncommon
Drymarchon couperi (Holbrook) Eastern Indigo Snake*2 Potential
Elaphe guttata (Linnaeus) Red Cornsnake Abundant
E.spiloides (Duméril, Bibron, & Duméril) Gray Ratsnake Abundant
Farancia abacura (Holbrook) Red-bellied Mudsnake Vulnerable
F. erytrogramma (Palisot de Beauvois in Rainbow Snake* Potential
Sonnini and Latreille)
Heterodon platirhinos Latreille Eastern Hog-nosed Snake Abundant
H. simus (Linnaeus) Southern Hog-nosed Snake*2 Potential
Lampropeltis calligaster (Harlan) Yellow-bellied Kingsnake* Vulnerable
L. getula (Linnaeus) Common Kingsnake Common
L. triangulum (Lacepède) Milksnake Common
646 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 8, No. 4
mixed pine-hardwood forests with well-drained soils. Gopherus polyphemus
frequently utilized ruderal areas (e.g., artillery firing points, and ranges) as
well. Crotalus adamanteus and Masticophis fl agellum were also encountered
frequently and at many locations throughout the CSJFTC (Table 2). Each of
the large upland snake species (C. adamanteus, M. fl agellum, and P. melanoleucus)
were frequently found dead on the road (Table 3). Regina rigida
was less frequently encountered, but appeared to be relatively common along
vernal pools, pitcher plant wetlands, and ephemeral and intermittent streams
scattered throughout the CSJFTC. Lampropeltis calligaster was found at
three locations in the southeastern portion of the installation, an area known
as the Gopher Tortoise Refuge. All L. calligaster were found in 2005; an adult
female was found on 12 March crossing a recently mowed artillery firing
point, three hatchlings (probably from the same clutch) were captured in a
single box trap on 3–5 May (one each day), and an adult male was captured
in a box trap on 3 August. A juvenile female Micrurus fulvius was captured
in a box trap located in the Gopher Tortoise Refuge on 30 March 2005. This
Table 2, continued.
Latin name Common name Status
Masticophis fl agellum (Shaw, 1802) Coachwhip* Abundant
Micrurus fulvius (Linnaeus, 1766) Harlequin Coralsnake* Rare
Nerodia erythrogaster (Forster, 1771) Plain-bellied Watersnake Abundant
N. fasciata (Linnaeus, 1766) Southern Watersnake Uncommon
N. rhombifer (Hallowell, 1852) Diamond-backed Watersnake Rare
N. sipedon (Linnaeus, 1758) Northern Watersnake Common
Opheodrys aestivus (Linnaeus, 1766) Rough Greensnake Abundant
Pituophis melanoleucus (Daudin, 1803) Pinesnake* Abundant
Regina rigida (Say, 1825) Glossy Crayfish Snake* Common
R. septemvittata (Say, 1825) Queen Snake* Peripheral
Rhadinaea fl avilata (Cope, 1871) Pine Woods Littersnake* Potential
Sistrurus miliarius (Linnaeus, 1766) Pygmy Rattlesnake Uncommon
Storeria dekayi (Holbrook, 1836) DeKay's Brownsnake Uncommon
S. occipitomaculata (Storer, 1839) Red-bellied Snake Uncommon
Tantilla coronata Baird & Girard, 1853 Southeastern Crowned Snake Uncommon
Thamnophis sauritus (Linnaeus, 1766) Eastern Ribbonsnake Abundant
T. sirtalis (Linnaeus, 1758) Common Gartersnake Abundant
Virginia striatula (Linnaeus, 1766) Rough Earthsnake Rare
V. valeriae Baird & Girard, 1853 Smooth Earthsnake Rare
2Thought to be extirpated from Mississippi.
Table 3. Number of large “tracked” snake species captured, found on roads, and found dead on the
road (DOR) of the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center from April 2004 to April 2007.
Found on road Found DOR
Species Total captured (% of total) (% of total, % found on road)
Crotalus adamanteus 51 19 (37%) 13 (25%, 68%)
Masticophis fl agellum 69 7 (10%) 4 (6%, 57%)
Pituophis melanoleucus 52 19 (36%) 6 (12%, 32%)
2009 J.R. Lee 647
individual managed to get the anterior third of its body through the 6-mm
hardware cloth, and would have probably passed entirely through if it had
not recently consumed a fairly large food item (i.e., adult male Anolis carolinensis).
An Ophisaurus attenuatus was found crossing the South Tank Trail,
headed towards the Impact Area Buffer, on 24 May 2006. Despite intensive
sampling (on the non-Impact Area Buffer side of the road), no additional
individuals were found. While enough individuals were captured to warrant
placement into the “common” category, Pseudotriton ruber was only found
at two locations (i.e., Ragland Hills and the Miles Branch beaver impoundment;
4.5 km apart). Larva of this species appeared to be abundant at both
locations; however, because only a handful of the larva were thoroughly
examined, larval individuals were excluded when determining this species’
relative abundance. On 21 February 2007, a lone male Pseudacris ornata was
heard calling (and later observed) from a pitcher plant wetland off of Rattlesnake
Bay Road. The area was revisited on the evenings of 23– 25 February,
and again on 3, 17, and 31 March 2007, and no additional individuals of this
species were observed. This individual (presumably the same one, since no
others were heard) was last heard calling on 24 February 2007 at 2250 h.
A high diversity of reptiles and amphibians were documented on the
CSJFTC. However, the number of species reported herein (83 native and
1 introduced) may underestimate the true herpetofaunal richness of the
CSJFTC. For example, I was unable to document a number of potentially
occurring species that I expected to find based upon habitat availability and
geographic range overlap. Four species in particular, Ambystoma maculatum,
A. texanum, Apalone mutica, and A. spinifera, have been commonly
observed adjacent (500–1500 m) to the installation (J. Lee, unpubl. data) and
will likely be documented on the CSJFTC in the future. Amphiuma tridactylum
utilizes a wide variety of habitats, is often locally abundant throughout
its range, and has been documented in Forrest and Perry counties (Boundy
2005, Conant and Collins 1998, Petranka 1998); therefore, it was surprising
that no individuals were found when apparently suitable swamp and riparian
habitat exists throughout the study site. Some of the undocumented species
potentially inhabiting the CSJFTC (i.e., Ambystoma tigrinum, Drymarchon
couperi, Heterodon simus, Ophisaurus mimicus, and Rana sevosa) are less
likely to occur on the study site because of a lack of suitable habitat, limitations
of the species range, or they are thought to be extirpated from the state.
However, the CSJFTC has large tracts of temporarily and permanently inaccessible
land (e.g., air-to-ground gunnery ranges, impact area and associated
buffer), which contain some of the best remaining habitats for these species
on the installation. Therefore, the possibility exists that these and a number
of the other undocumented species may be found on the site in the future.
Areas that warrant further inventory work include the Deep Creek area,
Hartfield Creek, Gator-bite Pond, Mars Hill, Miles Branch beaver impoundment,
and Ragland Hills.
648 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 8, No. 4
At the present time, the distribution of H. turcicus on the CSJFTC appears
to be limited to one area in the cantonment area and alongside Forest Service
Road 304 D. The latter of these two locations is fairly secluded, devoid of
buildings and other human structures that the species is often associated with,
and should be re-surveyed in the future to determine the colonization success
(or failure) of these individuals which are currently residing in an atypical
habitat (see Meshaka et al. 2006 and Lee 2008, for a review of typical habitats
in Lousiana and Mississippi, respectively). The high volume of traffic (relative
to the rest of the installation) that enters the cantonment area each day, coupled
with the fact that the life history of H. turcicus makes it well suited to undergo
jump dispersal in cargo, parcels, and plants transported by humans (Lee 2008,
McCallum et al. 2008, Selcer 1986) suggests that immigration and emigration
of H. turcicus will take place in the cantonment area in the future.
Despite not documenting 25 of the possibly occurring species, the
CSJFTC’s herpetofaunal richness is relatively high when compared to other
recently inventoried areas throughout the southeastern United States. For example,
Tuberville et al. (2005) conducted herpetofaunal inventories at 16 parks
within the National Park Service’s Southeast Coast Network (1 in Alabama, 6
in Georgia, and 3 in each of Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina), resulting
in 6–64 species being documented per park. The authors found a strong
and positive correlation between park size and species richness (Tuberville et
al. 2005:540). This relationship between land area and species richness could
account for the greater number of species found on the CSJFTC, since Camp
Shelby is considerably larger than any of the parks inventoried. However, the
greater herpetofauna richness found on the CSJFTC might be attributable to
differences in habitat availability between the CSJFTC and the national parks
inventoried. Longleaf Pine forests and isolated wetlands are fairly common
habitats on Camp Shelby, but were underrepresented in the Southeast Coast
Network parks (Tuberville et al. 2005). It should be noted that long-term studies
are required to accurately estimate total species richness and distribution
patterns (Gibbons et al. 1997).
As the human population and development of lands continue to increase
in southern Mississippi, and habitats become increasingly fragmented or lost,
the CSJFTC (and probably the entire DeSoto National Forest) offers a refuge
for imperiled species; as is the case with USFS- and Department of Defense
(DOD)-owned lands throughout the country (Grooves et al. 2000). However,
this does not necessarily mean that these species are safe. For example,
large upland snakes (as well as other herpetofauna) on the CSJFTC appear to
suffer from vehicular-induced mortality. Public awareness efforts (e.g., pamphlets,
road signs, and educational outreach programs) focused on increasing
people’s knowledge and appreciation of herpetofauna may help in preventing
road mortality on the CSJFTC. More extreme measures of reducing road
mortality include road closures, or the construction of amphibian and reptile
tunnel systems (see Langton 1989) in areas where individual or multipletracked
species have been frequently observed crossing roads (e.g., parts of
South Tank Trail and Red Hill Road). In addition to road mortality, the past
2009 J.R. Lee 649
practice of fire suppression may also be affecting a number of the CSJFTC’s
herpetofauna (e.g., Yager et al. 2007), and could explain why some species
are no longer found on the site (e.g., Tuberville et al. 2000). While large portions
of the CSJFTC are currently managed with prescribed fire each year,
the frequency and time of year that some of these areas are burned may be
insufficient in combating overstory canopy closure, shrub encroachment, and
herbaceous decline that has resulted from prolonged periods of fire suppression.
A number of the native longleaf herpetofauna, especially the specialist
forms (Guyer and Bailey 1993, Means 2006), would benefit (either directly
or indirectly) if these areas were managed in a fashion that opened the canopy
and reduced shrub biomass, thereby increasing primary productivity at the
ground level (see Johnson and Gjerstad 2006 and Walker and Silletti 2006, for
management suggestions). Once forests are restored, Means (2006) suggests
that prescribed fires should be conducted on a short rotation (1–3 years) during
the early lightning season (May and June), to produce an ecosystem mosaic
suitable for all the native species (not just herpetofauna).
Of the 10 tracked herpetofauna species found on the CSJFTC, only G.
polyphemus has an established monitoring program that evaluates the animal’s
status and population trends. A similar program is being developed
for P. melanoleucus, and because a number of the other tracked species
(C. adamanteus, L. calligaster M. fl agellum, M. fulvius) occur sympatrically
with P. melanoleucus, they will be monitored concurrently. Additional
programs should be developed and implemented for the other four tracked
herpetofauna, and for species occurring on the CSJFTC that are declining
in other parts of their range (e.g., Lampropeltis getula [Winne et al. 2007],
Desmognathus auriculatus [Means and Travis 2007]).
This project would not have been possible without the financial support of the
Mississippi Army National Guard and the assistance of numerous individuals: John
Rhine, T.G. Jackson, Melissa Olsen, Jennifer Frey, C.J. Sabette, Aaron Holbrook,
Dustin Shaneyfelt, Matt Hinderliter, Lisa Yager, Melinda Lyman, Major Bob Lemire,
Dr. Bob Jones, Tom Mann, Stephanie Lee, Kennedy Trueblood, and the DeSoto
National Forest staff. This work is dedicated to the late Derick W. Corey, a special
person whose companionship while in and out of the field I will greatly miss.
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