Date of Award





Earth and Space Science - Environmental Science Track


Earth & Space Science

First Advisor

William S. Birkhead


Gopher frogs (Rana capito) were radio-tracked between the 2000 and 2001 breeding seasons to study their terrestrial movements and habitat use in a longleaf pine- sandhill area on the Fort Benning Military Reservation, Georgia. The telemetry research was conducted in response to the need for biological data concerning gopher frog terrestrial habits. Ultimately the data could aid biologists and land managers in describing critical habitat and the development of a management or recovery plan. Twelve gopher frogs were caught at a herpetofaunal array surrounding two neighboring breeding ponds during a post breeding migration, implanted with miniature transmitters, released and radio-tracked one day per week. Data collected included: distances individuals moved between various locations, types of burrows used as refugia, general habitat descriptions, and extent of habitat use. Results indicated that dispersal distances from the breeding site and distances moved between burrow locations varied a great deal between individuals, however all individuals but one stayed within 300m of the herp array surrounding the breeding site. Burrows used by gopher frogs were either excavated by small mammal such as southeastern pocket gophers (Geomys pinetis) or old field mice {Peromyscus polionotus) or gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus). Gopher tortoise burrows used were almost exclusively inactive or abandoned. All small mammal burrows used appeared to be inactive or abandoned. Habitat types were delineated around the breeding site based on vegetation classifications and timber stand measurements. The total time spent by gopher frogs in delineated habitat types varied from to 116 weekly observations. A positive linear relationship was determined between number of gopher frogs known to use each habitat type, total number of burrows used in each habitat type and percent time gopher frogs spent in each habitat type. Gopher tortoise burrow density was negatively correlated with pine basal area and pine stem diameter, and positively correlated with hardwood basal area. Small mammal burrow density was negatively correlated with pine and hardwood basal area. The total number of observations at gopher tortoise burrows was positively correlated with hardwood stem diameter.