Scott Jones

Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas K. Pauley

Second Advisor

Dan K. Evans

Third Advisor

Frank S. Gilliam


Urban herpetology is a relatively new field, examining how reptiles and amphibians survive in areas that have been altered by humans. This study sought to add data on urban habitats to the knowledge within West Virginia. I studied six sites: two urban parks (Ritter Park and Barboursville Park), a nature area near an art museum (Huntington Museum of Art), two wildlife management areas (Green Bottom WMA and Chief Cornstalk WMA), and a state park (Beech Fork State Park). The state park and two wildlife management areas were considered non-urban habitats because they are more removed from developed areas than the urban sites. The objectives of this study were (1) to examine differences in both biotic and abiotic factors between urban and less-urban sites and (2) to determine how useful urban habitats were as wildlife conservation areas. This goal was achieved by determining reptile and amphibian species occupying these areas and by gathering data on various environmental variables at each site to better characterize the sites. Animals were observed with straight line transects and opportunistic searches at each study site. Each animal observed was weighed, measured, and its location data were recorded. Thirty two species were detected. Historic records from previous Marshall University graduate students were used to determine undetected species, and these data were incorporated into species richness and community similarity calculations. Total species richness at each site ranged from 7 species at Ritter Park, to 32 species at Beech Fork State Park. The Huntington Museum of Art (HMA) had a richness of 17. Community similarity values ranged from 0% between Green Bottom WMA and Ritter Park, to 57% between Beech Fork State Park and HMA. Trees were identified and measured at Ritter Park, the Huntington Museum of Art, Barboursville Park, and Beech Fork State Park. These data were combined with several environmental variables for canonical correspondence analysis (CCA). CCA showed that the two sites closest to each other, Ritter Park and the Huntington Museum of Art, formed one group, and Barboursville Park and Beech Fork State Park formed a second group. Both groups were comprised of one site that showed more urban characteristics (Ritter and Barboursville) and one that was less urban (Beech Fork and the Huntington Museum of Art). Even though the Huntington Museum of Art grouped closely with Ritter Park, it was more similar in its animal community to Beech Fork State Park, and along with Beech Fork was the only one of the sites where a state threatened Midland Mud Salamander was found. The Huntington Museum of Art with its high species richness, low numbers of invasive plants, and lack of impervious surface provides a good model for how reptile and amphibian refuges can be created in urban areas.


Urban ecology (Biology)

Habitat (Ecology) - West Virginia.