Date of Graduation

Summer 2013

Degree

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Brian Greene

Keywords

snake, mudsnake, Farancia abacura, movements, home range, habitat selection

Subject Categories

Biology

Abstract

Spatial ecology and habitat selection are paramount to understanding a species' ecological needs and preferences. In this study I radiotracked 15 Mudsnakes (Farancia abacura) at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Missouri. Consistent with anecdotal information regarding the species, Mudsnakes were highly aquatic and exceptionally secretive during the study. Movement patterns differed marginally between sexes and with reproductive condition. Males moved greater distances in spring, which is suggestive of mate searching efforts. Non-gravid females moved greater distances mid to late summer suggesting a "capital breeding” style, while the sole gravid female displayed a sedentary nest attendance behavior. Home range size was highly variable (0.1 – 80.0ha) and could not be statistically explained by size or sex. At the landscape level snakes occupied ditches in disproportion to their abundance but showed a preference for bottomland hardwood forests and large marshes at the home range level. These results may have important implications for the management of wetlands within the species' range. Future research on the species' nesting behavior and hibernacula selection would be most beneficial to elucidating the species' complete ecological profile.

Copyright

© Daniel Schepis

Campus Only

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