DEEP: Materials and Methods

Materials and Methods

These data derive from field surveys conducted between 1975 and 1999, including repeated visits to the state's various ecological regions throughout the activity season (March-November). Most of Connecticut's 169 towns were visited at least once. The Connecticut town is equivalent to a township, encompassing densely settled areas and the surrounding undeveloped land. Distributions are documented by preserved voucher specimens deposited at the American Museum of Natural History, augmented by field notes and photographs. Additional current locality data are from the collections at the Museum of Natural History, University of Connecticut, assembled primarily by faculty and students. Historical locality data are from museum collections and the literature. Wesleyan University's herpetological collection (incorporated into the United States National Museum) and Yale's Peabody Museum are major repositories of historically significant Connecticut collections dating back to the 1870s. Other repositories of Connecticut collections are listed in Klemens (1993).

Undocumented reports (i.e., not accompanied by a voucher specimen or photograph) were generally not accepted. Many species of amphibians and reptiles are difficult to identify, especially salamanders and larval amphibians. Several uncommon species are readily confused with common, widespread species. Admittedly, this approach may result in rejecting some valid, unverified locality data. However, the statewide distributional patterns were not altered by excluding these undocumented reports. Turtles presented special problems in analysis of locality data as native species are often kept as pets. Inevitably, some escape or are liberated outside their natural Connecticut range. Single specimens found at questionable localities often showed signs of captive confinement including deformed shells and wide growth annuli (indicating abnormally accelerated growth), overgrown beaks and toenails (from unnaturally soft food and substratum), plastral lesions (from unclean cage conditions), and holes drilled into the shell's edge. Additional fieldwork was usually required to determine if a single turtle represented a natural population or a released or escaped individual.

Various species of nonnative turtles may be found in lakes and ponds in Connecticut. The red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans, is the most commonly encountered nonnative turtle. If one cannot identify a turtle using this field guide, the possibility that it is a nonnative species should be considered. There are no records of nonnative turtles reproducing in Connecticut, but our winters are mild enough for species from the southern United States and southeast Asia to survive.

Author and Notes | Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut