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Survival of radio-implanted drymarchon couperi (Eastern Indigo Snake) in relation to body size and sex

Herpetologica

By:
, , ,
DOI: 10.1655/08-004R1.1

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Abstract

Drymarchon couperi (eastern indigo snake) has experienced population declines across its range primarily as a result of extensive habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. Conservation efforts for D. couperi have been hindered, in part, because of informational gaps regarding the species, including a lack of data on population ecology and estimates of demographic parameters such as survival. We conducted a 2- year radiotelemetry study of D. couperi on Fort Stewart Military Reservation and adjacent private lands located in southeastern Georgia to assess individual characteristics associated with probability of survival. We used known-fate modeling to estimate survival, and an information-theoretic approach, based on a priori hypotheses, to examine intraspecific differences in survival probabilities relative to individual covariates (sex, size, size standardized by sex, and overwintering location). Annual survival in 2003 and 2004 was 0.89 (95% CI = 0.73-0.97, n = 25) and 0.72 (95% CI = 0.52-0.86; n = 27), respectively. Results indicated that body size, standardized by sex, was the most important covariate determining survival of adult D. couperi, suggesting lower survival for larger individuals within each sex. We are uncertain of the mechanisms underlying this result, but possibilities may include greater resource needs for larger individuals within each sex, necessitating larger or more frequent movements, or a population with older individuals. Our results may also have been influenced by analysis limitations because of sample size, other sources of individual variation, or environmental conditions. ?? 2009 by The Herpetologists' League, Inc.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Survival of radio-implanted drymarchon couperi (Eastern Indigo Snake) in relation to body size and sex
Series title:
Herpetologica
DOI:
10.1655/08-004R1.1
Volume
65
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Herpetologica
First page:
199
Last page:
206
Number of Pages:
8