Artificial cover objects as a tool for the survey and conservation of herpetofauna

Yan Ronen Liberman*, Frida Ben-Ami, Shai Meiri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Artificial cover objects, made of various materials, have been used for decades for reptile and amphibian surveys, as well as in habitat restoration programs. Their low cost and maintenance demands make them a cost effective and efficient survey method. Since flipping covers does not require special skills, and covers can be uniform in size and material, they can be used as a standardized survey method to negate observer biases. We surveyed the literature in search of studies describing the use of artificial cover objects in situ as part of surveys or habitat restoration efforts of reptiles and amphibians in the twenty-first century. We found 490 studies conducted in 31 countries. Our results show that artificial cover objects are an effective method to sample reptiles and amphibians in terms of both labor and cost. Overall, artificial cover objects used in the studies we surveyed enabled the detection of 357 species belonging to 47 families. Only one study reported animal mortality caused by artificial covers and it also suggested a way to prevent it. No other studies reported direct or indirect injuries or deaths caused by artificial covers. We discuss the efficacy of artificial cover objects in surveying for reptiles and amphibians, and examine their effectiveness when used as part of habitat restoration programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1575-1590
Number of pages16
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Funding

FundersFunder number
JNF KKL1920

    Keywords

    • Amphibian
    • Artificial cover object
    • Conservation
    • Habitat restoration
    • Reptile

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