Title: Letter from Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00000639/00001
 Material Information
Title: Letter from Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Letter from Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, October 1986
General Note: Box 7, Folder 1 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 32
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00000639
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


Charman. Winter Haven Vice-Charman. Miccosulr Lake Wiles Miam Pensacola

SWildlife Research Laboratory
ROBERT M. BRANTLY. Executive Director 0 Ma
ALLAN L EGBERT. Ph.D., Ausian Executive Director 4005 S. Main Street
Gainesville, FL 32601
12 October 1986

Clark Hull
Southwest Florida Water Management District
2379 Broad Street
Brooksville, Florida 33512-9712

Dear Clark:

As you requested, the following are my thoughts regarding the biological
importance of small isolated wetlands.

Many amphibian species are more or less restricted in breeding habitat to
small, isolated, often ephemeral wetlands. In Florida, such species include:

SOak toad Bufo quercicus
Pine woods treefrog -Hyla femoralis
Barking treefrog Hyla gratiosa
Squirrel treefrog Hyla squirella
Little grass frog Limnaoedus ocularis
Florida chorus frog Pseudacris nigrita
Ornate chorus frog Pseudacris ornata
Spadefoot toad Scaphiopus holbrooki
Gopher frog Rana areolata
Flatwoods salamander Ambystoma cingulatum
Mole salamander Ambystoma talpoideum
Tiger salamander Ambystoma tigrinum
Striped newt Notopthalmus perstriatus

Normally, even where larger, permanent waters are available, they will not be
used by these species. Several other species of amphibians utilize small,
isolated wetlands, but will use larger, permanent waters when they are available.

How important are these wetlands? Gopher frogs, e. g., have been reported to
travel distances of two miles to reach a breeding pond. If we view an isolated
breeding pond as the center of a circle with a radius of two miles, we find that
a single isolated breeding pond might support a population of gopher frogs
occupying the adjoining 8000 acres of non-breeding habitat. Destruction of this
breeding pond, if no alternative breeding sites are available, could, thus, cause
the elimination of gopher frogs from 8000 acres of upland habitat. The same
Argument could be extended to the other species, although the size of the
impacted area would vary as a function of the mobility of the particular species.


The importance of isolated wetlands is by no means limited to amphibians.
(S Several species of snakes feed heavily (garter snake, ribbon snake, banded water
snake) or almost exclusively hognosee snake) on frogs and toads. The indigo
snake, a Threatened species, eats frogs and toads, as well as the other species
of snakes. Amphibians are a cornerstone of the vertebrate food chain, and many
other species will be adversely affected by actions that diminish the supply of

To some extent, the importance of isolated wetlands is directly proportional
to their degree of isolation. If thereare alternative breeding sites nearby, the
loss of a small pond might have minimal impact on local amphibian populations,
whereas if the degree of isolation is high (there are no suitable alternative
breeding sites), local amphibian populations might be totally extirpated. Thus
it is somewhat ironic that the draft rule of SWFWMD provides protection to
below-threshold wetlands within 300 feet of other wetlands, but not to the more
isolated wetlands, which may be of greater biological importance. I would urge
you to include in your evaluation formulae some consideration of the degree of
isolation, with an especial effort to protect all wetlands which, by virtue of
their isolation, may be regionally important.

The bottom line is the question of size thresholds below which the biological
evidence shows the fish and wildlife values to be minimal. As discussed above, size
alone is not an adequate gauge of biological significance; it must be considered
in conjunction with degree of isolation, hydroperiod and surrounding upland habitat
type. I would certainly be uncomfortable with any threshold greater than 1/4

I hope this information will be helpful; please feel free to contact me if I
can provide any additional information.


Paul E. Moler
Biological Scientist III


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