Reptile and amphibian inventories were conducted in 2001 and 2002 in several parks located in the Southern Colorado plateau, including Aztec Ruins National Monument. This research was funded by a grant from the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program, and facilitated by the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit at Northern Arizona University with the oversight of Dr. Rod Parnell and Ron Hiebert. The goals of the project included providing a baseline inventory, to identify park-specific species of special concern and to recommend an effective monitoring program that would allow park staff to assess the conditions of the species over time and note any significant changes in populations.
Reptile and amphibian species documented at Aztec Ruins during the 2001 and 2002 inventory surveys were:
Striped Chorus Frog
Common Collared Lizard
Eastern Fence Lizard
Plateau Striped Whiptail
Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
Aztec Ruins was expected to have a fairly diverse community of reptile and amphibian species for a park of its size, largely due to the diversity of habitats found here. Severe drought conditions likely affected the survey results. Many common amphibian species may not have been found due to dry conditions. Park boundaries have also recently expanded to include undisturbed areas north of the main irrigation ditch that may contain a number of snake species (e.g. Night Snake, Hognose Snake, Common Kingsnake, Glossy Snake) that have not yet been found.
Did You Know?
In places, the walls at Aztec Ruins are three feet thick, making them over twice as thick as Mesa Verde cliff dwelling architecture. Masons used the “core and veneer” style, laying a thick rubble core within a finely shaped stone veneer. This style is typical of Chaco Canyon "great house" sites.