I conduct research on the genetics, ecology, and evolution of amphibians. At present time my lab focuses on several projects.
The Ecology and Conservation Biology of the Georgetown Salamander (Eurycea naufragia)
The Georgetown salamander is an endemic, aquatic salamander known from only 15 sites in Williamson County, Texas. The species is neotenic and confined to springs and wet caves in the San Gabriel River drainage. The species is currently being considered for listing as an endangered species. We are conducting monthly visual encounter surveys at two sites. At both sites, we have marked salamanders with visual implant elastomers and carried out mark-recapture studies to estimate population sizes. Through recaptures of marked animals, we are studying movement of individual salamanders within the spring flow, reproductive patterns, and growth rates. We are also examining various factors that potentially affect the probability of detection in visual encounter surveys of aquatic salamanders.
Biagas, T. D., A. S. Hall, A. L. Ritzer, and B. A. Pierce. 2011. Time of day does not affect detection in visual encounter surveys of a spring-dwelling salamander, Eurycea naufragia. Southwestern Naturalist, 57:162-165.
Pierce, B. A., J. L. Christiansen, A. L. Ritzer, and T. A. Jones. 2010. Ecology of the Georgetown Salamanders (Eurycea naufragia) within the flow of a spring. Southwestern Naturalist 55:296-301.
See news release on student research on the Georgetown salamander: http://www.southwestern.edu/live/news/6414-reallife-research
Effects of Environmental and Human Factors on Frog Call Surveys
Frog call surveys have become a widely used sampling technique for frogs and toads. Male frogs call during the breeding season to attract females and each frog species has a specific call. The presence and relative abundance of frogs can be determined by detecting these calls. Our research has estimated the probability of detecting central Texas frogs with surveys of different duration, interobserver variation in detection efficiency, the effect of road noise and wind force on call detection, and the effects of moonlight and artificial light on frog calling. We are currently investigating a new measure of calling intensity--call latency, which is the length of time between the initiation of a survey and when a particular species is first detected.
Pierce, B. A. and A. S. Hall. 2013. Call Latency as a measure of calling intensity in anuran auditory surveys. Herpetological Conservation and Biology. In press.Granda, J. R., R. M. Pena, and B. A. Pierce. 2008. Effects of disturbance, position of observer, and moonlight on efficiency of anuran call surveys. Applied Herpetology 5:253-263.
Pierce, B. A. and K. J. Gutzwiller. 2007. Interobserver variation in frog call surveys. Journal of Herpetology 41:424-429.
Pierce, B. A. and K. J. Gutzwiller. 2004. Auditory sampling of frogs: detection efficiency in relation to survey duration. Journal of Herpetology 38:495-500.
View Texas Parks and Wildlife Department TV segment on our frog call research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnYsXTzrkRI
Long-Term Effects of Climatic and Environmental Factors on Amphibian Populations
We are using data from our frog call surveys to assess the long-term effects of climate change and other environmental factors on the persistence of frog populations in central Texas.
*List of Publications
*List of Research Grants
*List of Recent Presentations