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Amphibian and Reptile Checklists of the United States

Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge

small state map showing location

Kenmare, North Dakota


Lostwood was established by presidential order in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Today it is 26,900 acres of rolling, mixed grass prairie dotted with more than 4,000 wetlands ranging from tiny, ephemeral sloughs and broad, grassy marshes to brackish lakes covering nearly a square mile. Nearly one-third of the Refuge area once was farmed. Still, Lostwood remains the largest contiguous block of prairie pothole country under federal ownership in the "Missouri Coteau," a 12- to 15-mile wide, "knob-and-kettle" glacial moraine that stretches from northwestern Iowa nearly to central Alberta. The Refuge has gained recognition as a diverse, productive, near-native plant community.

Lostwood was virtually treeless prairie when the area was homesteaded by persons of European descent in the early 1900's, but the landscape has changed considerably since, with trees and brush increasing mainly as a result of fire suppression. Sightings of some grassland-dependent wildlife species such as ferruginous hawks have decreased, while wildlife associated with woody habitats have increased. Current management efforts are directed toward reversing this trend, with a goal of returning as close as possible to the mixed grass prairie community present in the late 1800's, just before settlement.

This is the first comprehensive list of vertebrates of Lostwood. The information is based on numerous area surveys conducted mainly in the 1980's. Incidental observations and previous records from Refuge files also are included. This should be considered a working list; further investigation by visitors as well as refuge staff is encouraged. Shortcomings in the list include incomplete knowledge of warblers and some other bird species during fall, mainly due to a seasonal decrease in observer effort.


This list includes all vertebrate species documented on the Refuge since 1935, and includes three species of reptiles and four amphibians.

General habitat each species should be found in is indicated as follows:

a - aerial                                  m - observed migrating
ag - aspen groves                           o - other woodland
b - buildings                               p - prairie 
bu - burned uplands                         r - refuge periphery
d - dry sites                               s - shrubs
g - gravel pile/pits                        sh - shorelines
gp - grazed prairie                         sl - sloughs
h - headquarters area                       sp - seasonal ponds
l - lakes                                   w - widespread

Species abundance varies annually, sometimes tremendously, due to dramatic changes in wetland availability, fluctuations in food resources, or natural cycles. Relative abundance of each species are for an "average" year and are defined as follows:

a - abundant: numerous and easily found in appropriate habitat
c - common: should be found in appropriate habitat with little search effort
u - uncommon: encountered infrequently but can be found with moderate search effort
r - rare: only observed once or twice every 1-5+ years

SALAMANDERS HABITAT ABUNDANCE ___ Tiger Salamander* p,l,sl c
SALAMANDERS HABITAT ABUNDANCE ___ Leopard Frog* p,l,sl c ___ Wood Frog* ag,p,sl r ___ Chorus Frog* p,sl,sp a
SALAMANDERS HABITAT ABUNDANCE ___ Plains Garter Snake* w,p c ___ Smooth Green Snake* p u
AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF PROBABLE OCCURRENCE (UNCONFIRMED): Great Plains Toad Red-sided Garter Snake Western Hog-nosed Snake

Note: Visitors are encouraged to report any new or unusual sightings by contacting the Refuge Manager at the address below.

Please follow all refuge regulations and keep out of unauthorized areas. Contact the Refuge Manager regarding questions on regulations.

Compiled by: Robert K. Murphy, Lostwood NWR, October 1990.

Acknowledgements: G. Berkey, F. Broerman, A. Gammell, and M. Green contributed many observations to the bird list. J. Albertson helped collect information on small mammals and reptiles. G. Berkey, M. Green, and R. Seabloom offered helpful suggestions on an early draft.

For more information contact:

                     Refuge Manager
                     Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge
                     RR 2, Box 98
                     Kenmare, ND 58746 
                     Telephone: 701/848-2722

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