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Abstract

We conducted a study of the Western Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia nettinigi), at a locality termed the Airport Road site in Jonesboro (Craighead County, AR) from November 2004 until March 2007. This site consisted of a network of roadside ditches in cultivated lawns in an industrial park. Even though sirens are known to occur frequently in ditches, most studies of the genus Siren have taken place in natural wetlands. We compiled mark-recapture data at the Airport Road site for each season to determine if the seasonal activity pattern for sirens in northeast Arkansas varied from activity data previously published from other localities in the range of this species. Capture rates were higher in the fall and spring. The predicted overall population size was 110 sirens at a density of 0.81 sirens per linear m. This density was less than the densities (in sirens/m2 ) reported by previous studies. We found two prominent peaks in sirens per size class: the first at 161-170 mm, and the second at 201-210 mm. Other researchers have assumed that the two most abundant size classes in siren populations represent one-year-old and two-year-old cohorts. The sirens captured at the Airport Road site are smaller, on average, than those reported in previous population studies. We found no significant difference between the growth rates of sirens larger than 200 mm SVL and those smaller than 200 mm snout-vent length (= SVL; P = 0.957, confidence interval -1.945, 2.045, n = 16). Our mean growth rates did not significantly differ from growth rates reported for sirens elsewhere. We sectioned siren humeri to identify and quantify lines of arrested growth (LAGs) as part of a skeletochronological analysis. The use of SVL was a poor indicator of number of LAGs. The difference in the weather pattern history in each of the voucher sirens used likely resulted in broad ranges of LAGs for each SVL size class.

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