Fuels Management and Habitat Restoration Activities Benefit Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) in a Disturbance-Dependent Ecosystem
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Journal of Herpetology
Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) are considered a species of conservation concern in the northeast United States because of their association with rare and declining habitats such as pine barrens and shrublands. These are disturbance-dependent habitats that currently require management to persist. We studied Eastern Hognose Snakes on a pitch pine–scrub oak barren in western Massachusetts from 2008 to 2013 to describe patterns of space use, habitat selection, and survival of this species and to evaluate the effects of habitat restoration and fuels management.We monitored 12 snakes with radio telemetry during the months of May to October 2008–2010. We examined habitat use versus availability using paired logistic regression analyses in which availability was temporally and spatially explicit in relation to radio-tracked snakes' previous use location and likely movements. We found that radio-tracked snakes significantly avoided closed-canopy forests and power line corridors, and instead primarily used heavily thinned pitch pine and scrub oak barrens. Individuals that used some closed-canopy forested habitat had significantly larger home ranges compared to snakes that used only managed early-successional habitat, congruent with ecological theory that habitat quality can affect home range size. We calculated a probability of 0.61 for adult survival during a 150-d active season (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.22–0.85), similar to other reports of adult survival for this species. We conclude that fuels reduction and habitat restoration activities, primarily heavy thinning, are increasing the amount of preferred habitat available for this threatened species.
Akresh, Michael E.; King, David I.; Timm, Brad C.; Brooks, Robert T. 2017. Fuels Management and Habitat Restoration Activities Benefit Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) in a Disturbance-Dependent Ecosystem. Journal of Herpetology. 51(4): 468-476. https://doi.org/10.1670/16-049.