USGS - science for a changing world

Techniques and Methods 2ľA5

Chapter 5 of
Section A, Biological Science
Book 2, Collection of Environmental Data

Herpetological Monitoring Using a Pitfall Trapping Design in Southern California

By Robert Fisher, Drew Stokes, Carlton Rochester, Cheryl Brehme, and Stacie Hathaway, U.S. Geological Survey; and Ted Case, University of California

Cover Photo


The steps necessary to conduct a pitfall trapping survey for small terrestrial vertebrates are presented. Descriptions of the materials needed and the methods to build trapping equipment from raw materials are discussed. Recommended data collection techniques are given along with suggested data fields. Animal specimen processing procedures, including toe- and scale-clipping, are described for lizards, snakes, frogs, and salamanders. Methods are presented for conducting vegetation surveys that can be used to classify the environment associated with each pitfall trap array. Techniques for data storage and presentation are given based on commonly use computer applications. As with any study, much consideration should be given to the study design and methods before beginning any data collection effort.


Background and Justification
Array Design
Array Materials and Trap Construction
Array Installation
Array Operation
Survey Data Management
References Cited
Appendix 1. Materials and supplies needed to build, maintain, and sample a pitfall trapping array.
Appendix 2. Species codes and abbreviatoins.

This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Download the report (PDF, 1.75 MB)

Document Accessibility: Adobe Systems Incorporated has information about PDFs and the visually impaired. This information provides tools to help make PDF files accessible. These tools convert Adobe PDF documents into HTML or ASCII text, which then can be read by a number of common screen-reading programs that synthesize text as audible speech. In addition, an accessible version of Adobe Reader 8.0 for Windows (English only), which contains support for screen readers, is available. These tools and the accessible reader may be obtained free from Adobe at Adobe Access.

Send questions or comments about this report to the author, R.N. Fisher, (619) 225-6422.

For more information about USGS scientific research at the Western Ecological Research Center, visit the USGS Western Ecological Research Center home page.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Publications Team
Page Last Modified: Friday, 02-Dec-2016 15:48:29 EST