An Overlooked Hotspot? Rapid Biodiversity Assessment Reveals a Region of Exceptional Herpetofaunal Richness in the Southeastern United States
We conducted a competitive bioblitz survey in four Georgia counties to raise awareness of a unique and species rich herpetofauna in the Pine Mountain/ Fall Line Sandhills Region of Georgia, and compared documented species of these counties to other herpetofaunas of the southeast that have known high richness and/ or were subject to thorough collection efforts. Our results demonstrate the efficacy of bioblitzes for documenting large numbers of species in a limited amount of time (62 amphibian and reptile species in only seven days, including 36 new county records and documentation of three protected species). Compared to areas of similar size, this area is among the most species-rich herpetofaunas in North America north of Mexico, with only three areas having higher documented richness. However, all areas we compared our site to have experienced much higher collection effort and contain much larger tracts of protected land. Thus, our data suggest the Pine Mountain/Fall Line Sandhills region is among the most important regions for amphibian and reptile conservation in North America.