Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles at the Camp Cady Wildlife Area, Mojave Desert, California and comparisons with other desert locations

December 1, 2018

We examined the biodiversity of amphibian and reptile species living in and near constructed ponds in the riparian area at the Camp Cady Wildlife Area (CCWA) in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California, based on field work from 1998-1999, 2016-2017, review of the literature, and searches for museum specimens using A total of 11 species (201 captures), including two frogs and toads (one non-native frog), one turtle, three snakes, and five lizards were captured at terrestrial drift fences with pitfall traps encircling two ponds (0.5 hectares total) on the property in 1999. Four additional species (one frog, one lizard, and two snakes) were previously reported in 1978 from a ranch 1.6 km southwest from CCWA for a total of 15 species in the local area. The southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida), was commonly observed at CCWA from 1998 to 1999 and documented as a breeding population. However, the species was extirpated at CCWA sometime after 2014 when the last individuals were photographed, and none have been detected since then despite significant efforts to do so. Biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles at CCWA is relatively low compared with sites elsewhere in the Mojave Desert with more elevational diversity. The 14 native species documented at CCWA accounts for approximately 21% of the native reptile and amphibian species reported by Stewart (1994) for the entire Mojave Desert, including peripheral species. Our smaller sample likely represents a group of easily detected species and is biased toward those found in or near water, especially amphibians. However, the relative proportion of amphibians vs. reptiles that inhabited CCWA in the last 40 years is not significantly different from the recently compiled proportions at five military installations in the California deserts. The herpetofauna inhabiting CCWA is notable for including riparian obligates like the western toad (Anaxyrus boreas), Northern Baja California treefrog (Pseudacris h. hypochondriaca), and A. pallida that are otherwise absent from large portions of the Mojave Desert. Other species are typical of those that are expected in the low-elevation creosote scrubdominated ecosystem in the area.

Publication Year 2018
Title Biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles at the Camp Cady Wildlife Area, Mojave Desert, California and comparisons with other desert locations
Authors Kristy L. Cummings, Shellie R. Puffer, Jenny B. Holmen, Jason K. Wallace, Jeffrey E. Lovich, Kathie Meyer-Wilkins, Chris Petersen, Robert E. Lovich
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title California Fish and Game
Index ID 70201299
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center