Influence of seasonality and gestation on habitat selection by northern Mexican gartersnakes (Thamnophis eques megalops)

Tiffany A. Sprague, Heather Bateman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Species conservation requires a thorough understanding of habitat requirements. The northern Mexican gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops) was listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2014. Natural resource managers are interested in understanding the ecology of this subspecies to guide management decisions and to determine what features are necessary for habitat creation and restoration. Our objective was to identify habitat selection of northern Mexican gartersnakes in a highly managed, constructed wetland hatchery. We deployed transmitters on 42 individual gartersnakes and documented use of habitat types and selection of specific habitat features. Habitat selection was similar between males and females and varied seasonally. During the active season (March–October), gartersnakes primarily selected wetland edge habitat with abundant cover. Gestating females selected similar locations but with less dense cover. During the inactive season (November–February), gartersnakes selected upland habitats, including rocky slopes with abundant vegetation. These results of this study can help inform management of the subspecies, particularly in human-influenced habitats. Conservation of this subspecies should incorporate a landscape-level approach that includes abundant wetland edge habitat with a mosaic of dense cover for protection and sparsely vegetated areas for basking connected to terrestrial uplands for overwintering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0191829
JournalPLoS One
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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