Date of Graduation

Fall 2017

Degree

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Brian Greene

Keywords

snake, rattlesnake, pigmy, pygmy, Sistrurus miliarius, home range, spatial ecology, movements, microhabitat, habitat, selection, mating, telemetry, radio, telemetry

Subject Categories

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Zoology

Abstract

Despite a wide distribution throughout the southeastern United States, pygmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius) have received less research attention than many other rattlesnake species. I captured a total of 33 S. miliarius at the Drury-Mincy Conservation Area (DMCA) and retained 14 large individuals (mostly gravid females) for a radio telemetry study. Snakes were primarily captured during evening road driving surveys and were encountered rarely with any other sampling technique. Sistrurus miliarius are widespread at DMCA where they were encountered in forest, savanna, and glade habitats. Snakes selected microhabitats with more vegetative cover and tree canopy closure than random sites while avoiding areas with sparse cover. All telemetrically monitored snakes were relatively sedentary and occupied very small (0–2.6 ha) home ranges. Reproductive status of females strongly affected activity with mean home range size of gravid females increasing five-fold following parturition. Births occurred in mid-August with maternal attendance observed for several litters for up to three days.

Copyright

© Dylan Wallace Maag

Open Access

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