SPATIAL ECOLOGY AND HABITAT USE OF THE WESTERN MASSASAUGA (SISTRURUS TERGEMINUS) IN NEBRASKA

Authors

  • Tracy J. Patten University of Nebraska at Omaha, Department of Biology
  • Daniel D. Fogell Southeast Community College
  • James D. Fawcett University of Nebraska at Omaha, Department of Biology

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17161/jnah.vi1.11922

Keywords:

Conservation, home range, radiotelemetry, rattlesnake, seasonal movements, tallgrass prairie

Abstract

We used radiotelemetry during 2004 and 2005 to investigate seasonal movements and habitat use and to improve our understanding of how land management practices were affecting Western Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus) populations in Nebraska. We found Western Massasaugas to brumate in crayfish burrows 100% of the time, and spring emergence occurred during March - April. The longest movements occurred during May when snakes were moving away from brumation sites to summer habitat, after which movements decreased until a second peak in August. We did not find significant differences between male and female activity area, range length, total distance moved, daily movement, or distance from spring and fall brumation sites. However the core activity range of females was significantly less than that of males. During the active season, grassland habitat was used 75.6% of the time compared to habitats of grassland-shrubs (10.7%), hydrophilic vegetation (9.1%), woodlands (3.1%), and shrublands (1.5%). Identifying variations in a species spatial ecology is important for achieving long-term conservation goals because life history events, resource availability, and land management practices may have an effect on seasonal movements and habitat use. The results of our study demonstrate the need for, and some of the necessary data for, improved land management planning in order to meet conservation needs of the Western Massasauga in Nebraska.

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Published

2016-07-05

How to Cite

Patten, T. J., Fogell, D. D., & Fawcett, J. D. (2016). SPATIAL ECOLOGY AND HABITAT USE OF THE WESTERN MASSASAUGA (SISTRURUS TERGEMINUS) IN NEBRASKA. Journal of North American Herpetology, (1), 31–38. https://doi.org/10.17161/jnah.vi1.11922