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Tuesday, January 30 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
SYMPOSIA-06: Snake Occupancy and Abundance in Restored Grasslands

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AUTHORS. Richard B. King, Northern Illinois University; John Vanek, Northern Illinois University

ABSTRACT. Ecological restoration of disturbed habitats is an increasingly common management strategy. Often, assessment of restoration success focuses on floristic characteristics and faunal responses are measured only infrequently. We monitored snake occupancy and abundance over four years using coverboard arrays in a chronosequence of 12 grassland restorations varying in age from one to 25 years. Weekly coverboard checks resulted in 1289 captures of 1028 individual snakes belonging to four species; 139 captures of 112 Eastern Foxsnakes (Pantherophis vulpinus), 436 captures of 348 Dekay’s Brownsnakes (Storeria dekayi), 106 captures of 89 Plains Gartersnakes (Thamnophis radix), and 608 captures of 479 Common Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). Occupancy increased over time for all four species. In addition, initial occupancy was positively correlated with restoration age for Dekay’s Brownsnakes but not for other species. Dekay’s Brownsnakes were more likely to occupy older restorations than younger restorations. Abundance was also positively correlated with restoration age for Dekay’s Brownsnakes. In contrast, abundance was negatively correlated with restoration age for Eastern Foxsnakes, possibly because more recent restorations supported higher numbers of small mammals. Species differences in the relationship of occupancy and abundance to restoration age may reflect differences in mobility. Their small size may limit the ability of Dekay’s Brownsnakes to colonize recently restored sites. Larger, more mobile species may colonize restored sites more easily making restoration age less of a factor. Regardless, increased occupancy over the four years of our study demonstrates a positive effect of restoration on grassland snakes.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 3:20pm - 3:40pm CST