Griffith Park Reptiles and Amphibians Daniel S. Cooper Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. Los Angeles, California [email_address] February 2010
Why do we care? Reptiles/Amphibians are integral parts of nature Many are indicators of ecological integrity Knowledge of natural systems brings understanding of earth, our relationship to earth Understanding enriches our lives, like art, music, food, etc.; otherwise, why have more than one kind of anything?
Herptile diversity of Santa Monica Mountains Entire range (n = 31) Newts/Salamanders (5) Frogs/Toads (4) Turtles (1) Lizards (7) Snakes (14) Source: “Reptile and Amphibian Checklist for the Santa Monica Mtns. NRA” (undated) In eastern Santa Monica Mtns. (n = 21) Salamanders (4) Frogs/Toads (2) Lizards (6) Snakes (9) Source: Delisle et al. 1986
History of investigation into Griffith Park reptiles and amphibians Earliest known collection (1911): CAS 33184,5 Aneides lugubris “Arboreal Salamander” (2) CAS 33151-83 Batrachoseps nigriventris “Black-bellied Slender- salamander” (33) CAS 33186 Ensatina eschscholtzii “Monterey Salamander” (aka Ensatina) Collector: E.C. Van Dyke Location: “On hills in Griffith Park”
History of investigation into Griffith Park reptiles and amphibians Only comprehensive publication: DeLisle et al. 1986 “ The Distribution and Present Status of the Herpetofauna of the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, California. Special publication No. 2 of the Southwestern Herpetoloist Soc., Dec. 1986” DeLisle listedjust five species listed as specifically occurring in Park (ignored specimen data): Western Fence-lizard Side-blotched lizard Southern alligator lizard Silvery legless lizard California striped racer This lack of information has contributed to historically low appreciation of park as natural area.
History of investigation into Griffith Park reptiles and amphibians “ The Postfire Era” Postfire Recovery Team convened after 2007 fire, which burned 800 acres. Wildlife Team led by Daniel S. Cooper, Cooper Ecological Monitoring, Inc. In partnership with USGS, initiated herptile surveys of Griffith Park in spring 2008, continuing through summer 2009.
Goals and Methods How much of original species diversity is left? What habitats are/were important for which species? <ul><li>Year-long trapping study (w/ USGS) </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunistic searches (after rain, on hot days) </li></ul><ul><li>Conversation/communication with rangers/hikers </li></ul>
2008 - 2009 Trapping Drift fencing Bucket Snake trap Opened/checked for 5 days every 4-6 weeks “ Herptile Array”
2008 - 2009 Trapping Five “arrays” placed in the park at Brush Canyon (3), Royce Canyon (1) and Oak Canyon (1). 5-day trapping sessions in Apr., May, June, Aug. and Oct. 2008; Feb., Apr., May and July 2009
What have we found? - Salamanders No known records of California Newt, California Treefrog or Calif. Red-legged Frog (ever) Sightings, photos 0 26 Western Toad Sightings Many 0 Pacific Treefrog 0 10+ 1 (juvenile, Spring Cyn.) Searches 0 0 Slender-Salamander sp. (TBD) Other (recent) Traps Species 0 1 (adult, Brush Cyn.) Monterey Ensatina 0 0 Arboreal Salamander
What have we found? - Lizards No known records of Western Pond-Turtle Sightings, photos 3 (adj. to GP) 0 Coast Horned Lizard 0 0 0 Side-blotched Lizard Mathewson et al. 2008 1 1 Western Skink 10s 5+ 100s 0 Searches 0 0 California Legless Lizard Sightings, photos 3 Coastal Western Whiptail Sightings, photos 32 Southern Alligator Lizard Other (recent) Traps Species Sightings, photos 32 Western Fence-lizard
What have we found? - Snakes No records of Yellow-bellied Racer, Night Snake, Coachwhip, Black-headed Snake, Lyre Snake, Western Blind Snake No modern records of So. Calif. Mountain Kingsnake or Coast Patchnose Snake Sightings, photos 5+ 4 Western Rattlesnake 1991 specimen from L.A. River 0 0 Two-striped Garter Snake 1 captured 1990s 0 0 Rosy Boa 0 5+ 0 0 Searches Photo (2007) 0 California Kingsnake Sightings, photos 1 Gopher Snake Other (recent) Traps Species Sightings, photos 6 Striped Racer 3 Sightings, photos Ringneck Snake
Most Common… Western Fence-lizard Sceloporus occidentalis
Most Common… Southern Alligator Lizard Elgaria multicarinata
Probably common (but few records) California Kingsnake Lampropeltis getula Western Skink Eumeces skiltonianus Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer (upper right)
Biggest mysteries (clockwise from upper left, next slide): <ul><li>Southern Calif. Mountain Kingsnake Lampropeltis zonata </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Old specimens; unconfirmed recent sightings; now rare in entire Santa Monica Mtns., but to be looked for in rocky areas, at outcrops or along stream. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>California Legless Lizard Anniella pulchra </li></ul><ul><li>Old specimens; unconfirmed sightings from adj. properties; persists even in urbanized areas of L.A. </li></ul><ul><li>Two-striped Garter Snake Thamnophis hammondii </li></ul><ul><li>1991 specimen from cement-sided Los Angeles River vic. Glendale; possibly persists along LAR. </li></ul><ul><li>Rosy Boa Lichanura trivirgata </li></ul><ul><li>Specimen captured by L.A. Zoo staff along northwestern edge of park, at rocky outcrop; only known record for SM Mtns.(?) </li></ul>
Considered Extirpated in Griffith Park (unless we learn otherwise!) Side-blotched Lizard Uta stansburiana Coast Patchnose Snake Salvadora hexalepis Both still persist in Verdugo, San Gabriel Mtns.
Thanks! <ul><li>City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Recreation and Parks (including Albert Torres, Chief Ranger) </li></ul><ul><li>Franklin Hills Residents Association </li></ul><ul><li>Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council </li></ul><ul><li>Sierra Club - Verdugo Hills Chapter </li></ul>