South-central Utah (same as main forum) *updated

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Lizardman1988
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South-central Utah (same as main forum) *updated

Post by Lizardman1988 » May 31st, 2013, 3:08 pm

I'm currently working on my master's degree in entomology. My project is on the ecology of a dune-dwelling camel cricket, Utabaenetes tanneri, that occurs in sandy areas in south-central Utah. This area is hard herping, but I've enjoyed years of it here, and I find it very rewarding. Snakes are few, but the potential species list is rather large. However, it is easy to clean up on some rather neat lizards. As I continue my studies, this post will grow as I run into more things out in the field.


First, I have to show off my study organism. They're pretty weird looking, which is why you have to like 'em.

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They like to investigate everything, and see if it is edible or not; in this case, my shoe.

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Marked individual

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They leave nice tracks in the soft sand, though their most interesting are those left from when they jump (which they are not very good at).

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There are a couple other interesting inverts out there. This was taken with my iPhone (who says cell phones don't have good cameras?)

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The scenery is hard to beat.

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Moonlight over my thesis site.

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The only way to make a campfire out here is with cattle dung. Works quite well, and there's a ready supply (since the BLM land here is so overgrazed)

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I walked up to this nice Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata) near my study site. It had been several weeks since the last rain here, so I was a bit surprised to see it (especially now, since I thought it was S. intermontana at first).

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Western Whiptails (Aspidoscelis tigris) are notoriously difficult to get a picture of. This is about as good as I've gotten (with a 150mm lens, no less).

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Northern Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus)

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Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister).

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Northern Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus) and Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister) basking together. A bit odd, since the spiny lizards will, every now and then, eat the plateau lizards. I think these are close enough in size that this probably wouldn't happen.

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The Sagebrush Lizards (Sceloporus graciosus) from the area are the prettiest I've ever seen.

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Saving the best for last (for you snake lovers at least). The only snakes I've seen live this year (yet) are Midget Faded Rattlesnakes (Crotalus [oreganus] concolor). Not a bad snake to see all summer. All three individuals I've seen so far, I walked up to in the field by following their tracks in the sand.

#1
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And the track that led me to it:

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#2
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#3 (which I have seen on several different days)
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Hope you enjoyed, I know I'm enjoying my time out here. Like I said, I'll post more as I find more!

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Rancorrye
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Rancorrye » May 31st, 2013, 5:20 pm

Nice pics. Love that spadefoot.

Rye

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occidentalis
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by occidentalis » May 31st, 2013, 5:32 pm

Nice! Great photos. Love the insects, spadefoot, etc. Great stuff.

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Jeremy Westerman
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Jeremy Westerman » June 1st, 2013, 7:14 pm

love these shots

Brian Eagar
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Brian Eagar » June 1st, 2013, 9:47 pm

Very nice stuff.
Sounds like a fun project with some cool by-catch.
Is this coral-pink sand dunes?
What makes you think those crotes are midget faded?

If its where I think it is, it would be really cool for someone to verify if longnose and glossies aren't there.
It may be too high in elevation for them but otherwise there is no reason for them not to be there.

Thanks,
Brian

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occidentalis
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by occidentalis » June 2nd, 2013, 2:33 pm

i think this is quite a ways northeast of coral pink sand dunes.

Brian Eagar
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Brian Eagar » June 2nd, 2013, 5:52 pm

Just hazarding a guess. The look of the spadefoot and spiny lizards in conjunction with the crickets led me in
the direction of guessing coral pink. However most of the crotes look like those from southeastern Garfield county.

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Brandon La Forest
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Brandon La Forest » June 2nd, 2013, 8:13 pm

Good stuff!

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by cameron.rognan » June 3rd, 2013, 7:21 am

Fantastic job with the midget fadeds. I have been wanting to get some nice in situ shots of that species and am yet to walk into one. I must admit I'm jealous. Tracking snakes is a lot more fun than most realize. That's a really pretty sagebrush lizard too. Too bad your researching bugs and not herps. Just kidding. Keep up the great work and good luck with the thesis.

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Jeremy Westerman
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Jeremy Westerman » June 3rd, 2013, 7:49 am

Lizardman1988 wrote:I'm currently working on my master's degree in entomology. My project is on the ecology of a dune-dwelling camel cricket, Utabaenetes tanneri, that occurs in sandy areas in south-central Utah. This area is hard herping, but I've enjoyed years of it here, and I find it very rewarding. Snakes are few, but the potential species list is rather large. However, it is easy to clean up on some rather neat lizards. As I continue my studies, this post will grow as I run into more things out in the field.


First, I have to show off my study organism. They're pretty weird looking, which is why you have to like 'em.

Image

The scenery is hard to beat.

Image

Saving the best for last (for you snake lovers at least). The only snakes I've seen live this year (yet) are Midget Faded Rattlesnakes (Crotalus [oreganus] concolor). Not a bad snake to see all summer. All three individuals I've seen so far, I walked up to in the field by following their tracks in the sand.

#1
Image
I would have misidentified the cricket as the Mormon cricket Anabrus simplex at a glance. I was not aware of dark colored camel crickets (I usually don't pay too much attention and I see mostly cave and field crickets) definitely will have to look closer next time at those guys.

Looks like your study area is in Emery or Wayne County on the Swell to me, could any of those crotes be C. o. abyssus? Especially this one with the long tail? Jimi, Brian Eagar, Thomas Wild, TimCO, Correcamino Rich, Brandon La Forest, Brendan, Louis Porras, anyone care to weigh in? what do you think?

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Brendan » June 3rd, 2013, 3:12 pm

Great job on tracking those little buzzworms down in the sand. That last snake looks like a different animal than the one's in the two photos before it labeled #3. Without knowing where your study site is I'd be guarded about correcting your ID of concolor but I think that Jeremy might be onto something.

Brian Eagar
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Brian Eagar » June 3rd, 2013, 3:28 pm

That is exactly what I was thinking Jeremy based on the looks of those animals and where I think his study site is but they can be so variable through there that without knowing the county at least its tough to say they aren't concolor. Also in his comments he specifically states, "All three individuals I've seen so far". That sounds like 3 different animals to me and they look different to me. Wheras we have mini hopis, concolor and abyssus in 'South-Central' Utah it's a bit of a crap shoot. However most adult concolor don't look like those animals. The first looks the most concolor but even it looks too long. I'd like to see the tails on the other 2.

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by ThomWild » June 3rd, 2013, 4:05 pm

I don't mean to drag out this post into another southern Utah "What is it?" Rattlesnake post but I have to ask, do you think that the OP's pics and this next pic are of the same species? Why or why not?

Image

-Thomas

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Brendan
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Brendan » June 3rd, 2013, 7:18 pm

Thomas you snake looks to be an abyssus without knowing any background on it. I think the animals posted above are also probably abyssus. It looks to me like 4 individuals and not 3 though. The last snake looks unique from the others.

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Lizardman1988 » June 3rd, 2013, 7:48 pm

Where to start... I don't have internet often, and this has definitely built up on me. Not to be too specific, but the rattlers come from north-east Garfield County, though my study areas are in Wayne and Emery counties as well. The habitat in Garfield where they were found is typical of the San Rafael Desert. So no, I'm nowhere near the coral pink dunes.

There are 3 individual rattlers pictured. The last picture of #3 was definitely the same individual as the other 2 pictures before it, I tracked it from one spot to the next. You can see the pattern of the blotches on its back match up as well. They look different, since they were taken at different times of day and different lighting conditions. All 3 were found within 200 yards of one another. There may well be some abyssus blood in these guys, but my feeling is that they are all concolor. They were all quite small, last year's offspring, though #2 might be a year older. That would muddy up identification a bit. I've also never seen a specimen from this area that's over 18in in SVL. Someone really needs to do DNA work on these guys (genomics wouldn't hurt, and its getting cheaper).

I would not be surprised if glossy snakes or longnose snakes turned up, but truthfully my luck in finding snakes out here is abysmal. I've only ever seen 4 species between Wayne, Emery, and Garfield counties (T. elegans, P. catenifer, C. concolor, and C. taeniatus). I suspect there are night lizards as well, I'm only about 2 miles as the crow flies from the type locality of the (now sunk) Utah subspecies. No luck yet though, even at the type locality (and same goes for chuckwallas).

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Lizardman1988 » June 3rd, 2013, 8:22 pm

Here's a few more from recently.

A. tigris

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This Crotaphytus bicinctores let me approach close enough to take this photo using my iPhone.

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Anaxyrus punctatus

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As a side trip, my Dad and I hiked up South Caineville Mesa. Strenuous hardly describes it. You climb about 1400 ft. in a little over a mile. It is the only way to the top of the mesa (barring a helicopter). Not sure how much herping has been done up here, it is a huge mesa, with some interesting habitat. I only found the usual suspects.

Some of the habitat.

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I dare you to climb this. The trail starts way out in the river valley, and you have to cross the flatlands first, before you get to climbing. The total path is about 2.8 miles long, most of it flat.

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A. tigris

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S. tristichus

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Lizardman1988
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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Lizardman1988 » June 4th, 2013, 11:12 am

Also, if anyone wants to come out and herp, I'm here at least through the weekend. I can meet up in Hanksville.

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by ratsnakehaven » June 4th, 2013, 12:39 pm

Great stuff. Wish I could meet up with ya... :)

That first crote looks just like the concolor I found near Hanksville a few years ago when we were out there. Love the spadefoot and lizards. I just got back from my Idaho trip and am learning more about the lizards of UT, ID, and NV. Thanks for the pics and info. Best luck with your research and getting that degree. Say "Hi" to Tantilla for me.

Terry

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum)

Post by Lizardman1988 » June 5th, 2013, 1:37 pm

Here are a few more photos from recently.

Uta stansburiana

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Tracks from this individual

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At this point, it looked like a storm system was going to move through, so I went road cruising. 4 AOR snakes, 1 DOR, and a toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)

Three of the AOR snakes and the DOR were Pituophis catenifer. They may be the most common thing out here, but I never tire seeing them, and they are way prettier (in my mind) than the bullsnakes we have back in Kansas.

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My first snake of the night, however, was a Crotalus concolor from Wayne County. At least, I assume it is a concolor...

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The pictures really don't capture the color of this guy. It was very pink when on the road, and I just couldn't get the color to show.

A bit different lighting:

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Not sure if I like the above, or the worked-over version more:

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I got back to camp, and found that in my absence, a snake had crawled through it. This matches the rattlesnake tracks that I had been seeing before, but I was not able to locate this individual. This was taken the morning after.

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And a track of S. magister

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That's it for now, look for more to come.

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Re: South-central Utah (same as main forum) *updated

Post by Jeremy Westerman » June 5th, 2013, 8:33 pm

More cool tracks and a crote, you are on a roll.

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