Thursday, January 9, 2014
Indigo Snakes & Gopher Tortoises in southern Georgia
In a new paper, Hyslop et al. (2014) examine the needs associated with the eastern indigo snake in Georgia, including spatial and habitat requirements. In order to determine if the eastern indigo snakes maintained definable home ranges, to estimate annual and seasonal home range sizes and describe movements within home ranges, to examine ecological factors associated with intraspecific home range size variation, and to quantify habitat use and seasonal variation in use.
The authors radiotracked 32 eastern indigo snakes from 2002 to 2004 on Fort Stewart Military Installation and adjacent private lands in Georgia. The annual home range size varied from 33 ha to 1,528 ha.and individual home range size was most influenced by sex (males with larger home ranges) followed by body size. A ompositional analysis of habitat use suggested positive selection for wetland, evergreen forest, and pine-hardwood (mixed) forest, with an avoidance of roads and deciduous forests. Seasonally, indigo snakes used the highest diversity of habitats as they moved from xeric uplands (sandhills) in winter and early spring to wetlands and uplands other than sandhills in summer; however, snakes continued to use sandhill habitats in 35–58% of locations seasonally with gopher tortoise burrows throughout the warmest months. In Georgia, management and conservation of the eastern indigo snake should include conservation of large tracts of undeveloped land, containing a matrix of xeric uplands with suitable underground shelters and adjacent wetland habitats. The entire article is available on-line.
Hyslop, N. L., Meyers, J. M., Cooper, R. J. and Stevenson, D. J. (2014), Effects of body size and sex of Drymarchon couperi (eastern indigo snake) on habitat use, movements, and home range size in Georgia. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 78: 101–111. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.645