Straight-line drift fences and pitfall traps



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Straight-line drift fences typically are short barriers (5-15 m) that direct animals traveling on the substrate surface into traps places at the ends of or beside the barriers. Traps (described below) can be pitfalls, funnel traps, or a combination of the two.

Drift fences with pitfall or funnel traps and pitfall traps without fences are used commonly to inventory and monitor populations of amphibians and reptiles. For example, 9 of 17 field studies reported for management of terrestrial vertebrates (Sarzo et al. 1988) used these techniques to sample amphibians. Drift fences with pitfall traps can be used to determine species richness at a site and to detect the presence of rare species. They also can yield data on relative abundances and habitat use of selected species.

Pitfall traps arrayed in a grid without fences can also be used to study the population ecology and habitat use of selected species. Population density can be estimated with this latter technique if used in conjunction with mark-recapture techniques (see Chapter 8). Drift fence arrays or pitfall grids can be left in place for long-term monitoring.

In this section, I discuss the use of this technique to obtain data on amphibians away from breeding ponds. Use of drift fences and traps to monitory amphibian activity at breeding ponds is discussed in the section "Drift Fences Encircling Breeding Sits", below (technique 9). Some materials and procedures are common to both techniques. Investigators contemplating the use of drift fences and traps in any context should read both accounts.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Straight-line drift fences and pitfall traps
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Smithsonian Institution Press
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Measuring and monitoring biological diversity: standard methods for amphibians
First page 109
Last page 117
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