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 Post subject: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: October 30th, 2014, 1:39 pm 
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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Posts: 2281
Location: Gainesville, FL
How often do you flip your artificial cover or strategically placed boards?
Does frequency change by habitat and/or season, and how so?

I don't mind sharing a higher level of detail about my board site because its basically in my backyard.
I have a small pile of boards in my garden. I live in an apartment complex and can't control what the mowers or other tenants do, but it seems like the peak times of year are spring and fall. I have ~5 old railroad tie type logs, ~3 old fence posts and a few flat ones; ~3 flat 2'x2' pieces, and one larger 4'x8' piece of plywood.

This spring it produced a variety of animals, the first of which was found on 4/13, the last of which was found 4/30. I was checking them 1-2 times a week.

This summer it produced one animal 7/26. I was not really checking it over the summer, perhaps once a month.

This fall I started checking with regularity, at least twice a week in mid September. The first animal found was on 9/25. The most recent find was 10/25.

It has produced 7 species: 3 snakes, 3 lizards (brown anole being one), and 1 toad. 1 tree frog species has been found around the boards, but not actually under them.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: October 31st, 2014, 11:56 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:25 am
Posts: 1159
Location: Mobile, AL
Maybe every other week in the peak seasons (spring/fall). Give them a few months rest in the summer/winter to let them get settled in.

I have been able to find snakes and other herps under cover every month of the year here in Mobile (Gainesville has a similar climate as far as I know), but the best times really are spring (Feb-May depending on weather) and fall (Oct-nov; Sept. is still usually too hot). So I usually leave the flipping spots alone in the off season these days.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 1st, 2014, 12:00 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
Posts: 2228
The good spots: Once or twice a season (spring, fall). I totally believe that good spots can be ruined by disturbing them too often.

The boards/carpet in my backyard: Every few days in spring and fall. I'd like to leave them alone more, but I just can't. The backyard stuff doesn't produce much in the summer or in the depth of winter.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 3rd, 2014, 11:36 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1664
Why not try an experiment? 2 treatments, one checking weekly, one checking monthly. Assign each of your 10 pieces to one of the treatments. Collect your data and see what you get. I doubt you'll get enough data to compare diversity but you can probably compare sheer numbers encountered.

I used to run my boardlines once a week during the seasons I thought they would produce. The biggest variability I ever noticed was among objects - some always have stuff under them, and some never or rarely ever do. I never tried an experiment like the one I suggested.

If you stay in your residence for 2 seasons you could do a cross-over of your treatments - the pieces that got checked weekly the first season, become the monthlies in season 2, and vice versa. That would help tease apart the location effect (of some spots always/never having animals) from the treatment effect (frequency of checking).

Backyard junk, I'm with Tamara - any time the feeling strikes. I've had long-term (years) suburban snake residents who did not seem at all bothered by that frequency of checking. I just never touched them, a quick peek was all I did, with a gentle set-down of the cover object. The good thing about checking that often is you occasionally get some oddball critters that you would probably only see once. Checking too infrequently would seem to lead to missing most of those animals.

cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 20th, 2014, 6:06 pm 
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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Posts: 2281
Location: Gainesville, FL
Once I'm settled somewhere more permanently I may run an experiment like you suggest. For now, it just gonna be hit or miss.

I think even experimenting with different thicknesses of boards would be worth exploring too.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 20th, 2014, 9:23 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 3297
Location: San Antonio, TX
One thing that is kind of fun to do if you have access to pit tags and a reader is to pit tag animals then revisit the site to see if they are there without flipping the board (i.e. read the pit tags through the board). It works pretty well and you can monitor the presence and absence of individuals without disturbing their hiding places.

Of course, you have to have a pit tag reader and tags.... :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 20th, 2014, 11:06 pm 

Joined: March 30th, 2014, 12:16 pm
Posts: 566
Location: Okaloosa ca, Fla.
I check my boards once every other week, usually on a Monday, sometimes on a Sunday. I lift, scan for a few seconds, replace, leave. The habitat can't get much more damp, the ground is saturated almost all the time, so humidity escaping and changing micro-habitat isn't much of an issue that I worry about. As sort of a reset, every rain submerges the boards for the length of the rain. Heavy rains submerge the boards for a few days at a time even. I have some in drier areas that I don't check often, but I don't have them for checking really - I have never found anything under them and I rarely disturb them.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 21st, 2014, 4:30 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:11 am
Posts: 2173
Location: Lake Worth, FL
When I had 100-200 boards out at my local nature preserve for a survey, it didn't seem to affect the numbers of snakes to check them every other day (which I did for a time) - especially for the half land/half aquatic boards.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 21st, 2014, 6:54 am 

Joined: September 22nd, 2012, 5:13 pm
Posts: 440
Hi Folks,

I noticed that most of the posters on this particular thread are from the Southwest or Southeast. Could anyone comment on how things may be different in the Northeast? We have the effect of the freezing and thawing cycles accelerating the weathering of our boards in the winter, so I wasn't sure if this seasoned the boards more quickly? Also, I realize that there are deciduous forests throughout the country, but our geology in some areas tends to be rocky or poorly drained, versus other areas that are sandy and don't build up as much of a humus layer, which I know could help with moisture. Could anyone in the Northeast comment on how this may affect us differently?

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 21st, 2014, 7:22 am 

Joined: March 30th, 2014, 12:16 pm
Posts: 566
Location: Okaloosa ca, Fla.
Now if someone from the Northeast does comment that would obviously be better, but if no one does, here is what I can help from similarities, some common herp knowledge, and anecdotes from friends that have herped in the NE.

I'm not from the Northeast but I know someone that use to herp in New York. He had plywood boards and said that they decayed faster up in New York than down here in Florida, and he attributed it to the freeze/thaw cycle. His boards were in rather damp areas and the water in them would freeze, causing the board to re-size. He said some of his boards were dead, as in degraded past use for AC, in 4-5 years. Now, there is factors to consider like fungus and insects eating the plywood, yet his explanation of the freeze/thawing seems logical to me. You might try setting some on your property if you are a land owner to see how the boards do over time.

Also for a thermo-regulation thing, metal might work better as it heats up faster in the sunlight, something herps in cold areas will be looking for.

As far as well-drained vs. wet areas that covers me down in FL too, so I can share what I have seen as far as micro-climate. The damp areas as I mentioned re-gain almost "max" moisture quickly, the dry areas not so much, but this results in varying species. In the dry areas where I have flipped AC I tend to find more upland species such as Hognose, Racers, Coachwhips, and Eastern Diamondbacks - as well as "both types" species such as Rat Snakes, and Garter Snakes. Now in the wet areas that are really damp I find mostly amphibians, wetland edge snakes, and semi-aquatic snakes, such as Slimy Salamanders, Red Efts of Eastern Newts, Southern Ring-neck Snakes, and Banded Water Snakes. So up north in the NE you might find a northern pine snake or eastern hognose in a prairie or hillside area, and you might find northern water snakes near a pond or river.


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 21st, 2014, 8:08 am 

Joined: September 22nd, 2012, 5:13 pm
Posts: 440
Thanks Simus!

Another thought: If I am laying out a board line in the Northeast, and am laying the boards this month, should I clean the vegetation out underneath of it, or should I leave it to decompose on its own and add to the moisture underneath? Targets are the common stuff, ringnecks, milks, racers, ribbons, browns, etc.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Board/AC Flipping Fatigue?
PostPosted: November 21st, 2014, 8:48 am 
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Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Posts: 2281
Location: Gainesville, FL
Quote:
If I am laying out a board line in the Northeast, and am laying the boards this month, should I clean the vegetation out underneath of it, or should I leave it to decompose on its own and add to the moisture underneath?


If you can, I would do both. Different snakes species, and perhaps even individuals like different things and offering a variety lets them choose.

On my board pile I left one on top of some vegetation and found a baby garter curled up in with it. One board over, well seated to the ground w/o vegetation, I found a pine woods littersnake.


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