should I record this?

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Nature Nate
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should I record this?

Post by Nature Nate » January 25th, 2011, 5:31 pm

I just found a hatched nest of (king?) snake eggs that had been dug up by another animal after they had hatched and I was wondering if I should enter them into the database. I've also wondered the same thing about shed skins when I can tell the exact species. Has this been discussed before?

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spinifer
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Re: should I record this?

Post by spinifer » January 25th, 2011, 5:42 pm

I record any herp evidence (e.g., remains, sheds, eggs, etc) so long as I believe the voucher photo can be independently ID by others.

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Nature Nate
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Nature Nate » January 25th, 2011, 6:38 pm

ok, so could these eggs be independently ID by others?

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spinifer
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Re: should I record this?

Post by spinifer » January 25th, 2011, 6:59 pm

I would expect anything to come out of that hole to be turtle eggs. Why do you think they are snake eggs?

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Brian Hubbs » January 25th, 2011, 7:16 pm

Maybe because pond turtle eggs would be a rare find in SD...and maybe because they "look" like gopher, racer or king eggs, and kings are the most common large snake in the area... :) It looks like the eggs were in a Vole tunnel, and momma vole didn't like 'em there...

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Nature Nate
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Nature Nate » January 25th, 2011, 9:47 pm

Brian Hubbs wrote:Maybe because pond turtle eggs would be a rare find in SD...and maybe because they "look" like gopher, racer or king eggs, and kings are the most common large snake in the area... :) It looks like the eggs were in a Vole tunnel, and momma vole didn't like 'em there...

Spot on! there is no way they could be turtles, and I'm pretty sure that they are too small for gopher eggs and the only snake that I've seen in that area is one baby king snake. btw, voles are bigger than wood rats so I doubt that it was a vole. It's more likely that it was a deer, house, or pocket mouse that owns(ed) the tunnel.

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spinifer
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Re: should I record this?

Post by spinifer » January 25th, 2011, 9:52 pm

Yes, I clearly know very little about SD. :oops: I now see that the copious amout of dirt and rocks around the hole means that that hole is the entrace to an excavated tunnel, and the eggs were probably excavated along with it.

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jonathan
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Re: should I record this?

Post by jonathan » January 25th, 2011, 10:10 pm

I wouldn't enter it unless the ID is fairly clear.

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Gyri
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Gyri » January 26th, 2011, 12:05 am

I would consider egg photos to be a voucher if you can:
A) see the texture of the eggs in the photo (macro)
B) clearly determine the size of the eggs (photo of egg on ruler)
C) make out the shape of the egg (round vs ovate vs suppository-shaped)

Someone should be able to clearly tell the species of reptile by a photo of a single egg in conjunction with knowledge of what the local options are.

---

While we're discussing things that can be used as vouchers, how do you guys feel about photos of gopher tortoise burrow? While I'm in the south this winter I see burrows in a LOT of counties but very rarely see the tortoises (I'm only here for the winter). I do not think anybody would question what made an active burrow.

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jonathan
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Re: should I record this?

Post by jonathan » January 26th, 2011, 12:14 am

As long as we're drawing a line somewhere, I would like to draw a line at having actual physical material from the species. Live snake okay. Dead snake okay. Snake eggs okay. Piece of snake (such as snake skin) okay. One of my records is actually the dropped tail of a Western Redtail Skink that a teenager had just failed to catch. But a burrow, or tracks, or anything else that doesn't physically include part of the animal? I'd prefer to leave it out.

I'm open to other suggestions though, if other people feel differently.

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Chris Smith
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Chris Smith » January 26th, 2011, 6:33 am

I agree with Gyri.

Personally I do not enter eggs (turtle or snake). The ID is too subjective in my opinion. I do enter shed skins though only when I am 100% positive of the ID and I can capture the characteristics in a photograph.

Cheers,
Chris

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Re: should I record this?

Post by hellihooks » January 26th, 2011, 6:48 am

I found fresh Tort turds outside a freshly dug burrow, and took pics, but didn't collect any... :crazyeyes: jim

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Chris Smith
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Chris Smith » January 26th, 2011, 6:59 am

While we're discussing things that can be used as vouchers, how do you guys feel about photos of gopher tortoise burrow? While I'm in the south this winter I see burrows in a LOT of counties but very rarely see the tortoises (I'm only here for the winter). I do not think anybody would question what made an active burrow.
No one would question what made the burrow, but there is always a chance the resident is no longer using it (moved on, dead, etc...). Personally I would not voucher a gopher tortoise burrow without seeing the animal...... Unless the record would be a new county record (by academic standards), in which case I would voucher it in hopes that someone would follow up on the record.

-Chris

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spinifer
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Re: should I record this?

Post by spinifer » January 26th, 2011, 8:08 am

I never thought about gopher tortoise burrows. I dont see a problem with entering it. Personally, if I entered any it would be active ones, and would probably lump any I found on a tract of land into one record, with detailed notes about activity observed.

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Gyri
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Gyri » January 26th, 2011, 9:05 am

My opinion on the burrows, which I forgot to mention in my initial post, is that I think they should count as a voucher for the species' presence at a site but you cannot accurately determine quantity from the number of burrows so the quantity should always be entered as 1. A tortoise may dig multiple burrows so it's only useful in documenting the presence of the species, not its abundance. Yes, you can estimate abundance based on habitat productivity and the number of burrows but the number of burrows would be better suited for the notes category, not the quantity field.

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Jeff Lemm
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Jeff Lemm » January 26th, 2011, 9:20 pm

If you cnnot get a definitive ID, I would not enter it. And voles are nowhere near as large as Neotoma! lol

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Nature Nate
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Nature Nate » January 27th, 2011, 2:09 pm

Jeff Lemm wrote:If you cnnot get a definitive ID, I would not enter it. And voles are nowhere near as large as Neotoma! lol
I remember one time we caught what one of the researchers said was a "vole" in a pittrap array at the WAP and it was as large (or larger) than a pocket gopher. I might just be inexperienced here, but the largest wood rat that I have ever seen was about 6" svl and less bulky than the vole (this was elsewhere in a snap-trap not a pitfall).

was it really a vole in the trap? or have I gotten my mammals mixed up? I'm a herp guy, to me one snake lunch is pretty much the same as the next. I admit my ignorance :P

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Chris Smith
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Chris Smith » January 27th, 2011, 3:19 pm

The biggest voles around here are about the size of a fist (or a tad bit bigger).

-Chris

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Jeff Lemm
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Jeff Lemm » January 27th, 2011, 6:06 pm

our voles are smaller than pocket gophers

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yolodave
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Re: should I record this?

Post by yolodave » February 6th, 2011, 11:00 am

Did you dissect the eggs? Could be Red-eared Slider. They lay leathery eggs in uplands. Any ponds nearby?

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Nature Nate
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Re: should I record this?

Post by Nature Nate » February 6th, 2011, 11:23 pm

the only water nearby is a small perennial creek. I decided against entering this

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chrish
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Re: should I record this?

Post by chrish » February 7th, 2011, 7:09 am

I don't think you should enter nests/eggs for the simple reason that they cannot be confirmed. A mole salamander sitting around her nest of eggs should be counted as 1 individual regardless of the number of eggs. If there is no adult to confirm the identity, the eggs shouldn't be in the database.

Burrows should also be considered carefully. Gopher Tortoise burrows can remain for several years after a population has been extirpated. Adding them to the database can obfuscate that disappearance. And, as pointed out by others, one tortoise can have more than one burrow.

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jonathan
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Re: should I record this?

Post by jonathan » February 7th, 2011, 7:31 am

chrish wrote:I don't think you should enter nests/eggs for the simple reason that they cannot be confirmed. A mole salamander sitting around her nest of eggs should be counted as 1 individual regardless of the number of eggs. If there is no adult to confirm the identity, the eggs shouldn't be in the database.
There are cases in which egg masses can be confirmed definitively without an adult nearby, such as in the west where we often have a limited number of frog species to distinguish between. For instance, I entered a Pseudocris hypochondriaca egg mass in an area where no other chorus frog species are found, and the only other potential frog species are western toads, western spadefoots, California red-legged frogs (unlikely), and bullfrogs. So that ID was very confident. Areas with only one toad species, only one water-breeding salamander, only one land-nesting salamander, or other very obvious egg mass characteristics are also identifiable. But I agree that they should not be entered if identity cannot be confirmed.

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