Population structure, body mass, activity, and orientation of an aquatic snake (Seminatrix pygaea) during a drought

Canadian Journal of Zoology



The snout – vent length, tail length, weight, sex, activity, and orientation of a population of swamp snakes (Seminatrix pygaea) in north – central Florida were recorded from 1985 through 1990. A small temporary pond was monitored for 1343 days, using a drift fence – pitfall trap sampling regime. I captured 123 different snakes, plus 45 recaptures. Juveniles comprised 89% of the snakes at the pond. Females were generally longer and weighed more than males, although regression analysis showed no differences between the sexes in the relationship of length versus wet body mass. Males had longer tails than females. The sex ratio of snakes with a snout – vent length of more than 150 mm was 1:1. Activity occurred throughout the year but peaked during summer. Hydroperiod and weather conditions did not appear to influence snake activity. During the latter years of the study, a regional drought that began in the mid-1980s became quite severe. However, drought had little direct effect on overland migration or body condition but caused snakes to leave or to shorten the amount of time they spent within the pond basin. Snakes immigrated and emigrated nonrandomly; orientation was directed to and from the nearest large water body. Certain temporary ponds may comprise developmental habitat for Seminatrix pygaea. The dynamic wet – dry climatic cycles in southeastern North America may lead to the formation of metapopulations in some aquatic snakes.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Population structure, body mass, activity, and orientation of an aquatic snake (Seminatrix pygaea) during a drought
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/z93-177
Volume 71
Issue 7
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Florida Integrated Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 1281
Last page 1288
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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