Accessibility Navigation:

Broad River Herpetofauna

The Davidson College Herpetology Laboratory has begun work on a landscape-scale project focusing on reptiles and amphibians inhabiting the Broad River Basin in South Carolina. Amphibians and reptiles are among the most threatened animal groups, thought to be heavily influenced by anthropogenic activities that negatively affect habitat conditions.

The two major anthropogenic activities of interest in this study are damning of rivers, which results in flow regulation changes in river habitats, and changes in land cover, such as the changes that happen through urban development.

The Broad River basin of South Carolina provides an ideal study system for our work because of the variety of land uses present along the river. We selected a total of 42 study sites located along S.C. river habitats to conduct research.

In addition to sampling the Broad River itself, we also selected study sites located along the Pacolet River, a major tributary of the Broad. Some of our sites are relatively undisturbed, such as the portion of the Broad that flows through the Sumter National Forest, while other stretches run through regions of dense urban development, including the metropolitan areas of Spartanburg and Columbia. In addition, a number of large dams are located along the Broad River including Gaston Shoals Dam, Ninety-Nine Islands Dam, Neal Shoals Dam, and Parr Shoals Dam.

Our primary objectives are:

  • Identify the distribution and community composition of amphibians and reptiles in the river habitats of the Broad River Basin.
  • Determine the cumulative effects of river flow regulation through damming and land cover on reptile and amphibian occupancy, abundance, and species richness.
  • Determine status of federal and state listed rare, threatened, and endangered reptile and amphibian species in the Broad River Basin.
  • Use information on reptile and amphibian distributions in relation to anthropogenic disturbances to draw conclusions about river habitat management that will benefit reptiles, amphibians, and other riverine-associated species such as fish.

We also have sampled turtles through turtle trapping at nine study sites, and we have compiled a species list of amphibians and reptiles potentially occurring in the Broad River Basin along with information regarding which of those species we have detected thus far in our study.

View the Broad River species list.

Related Projects

In addition to the work outlined above, we conducted two sub-projects:

Funding for this work is provided by the Broad River Mitigation Trust administered through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.