Habitat suitability and conservation of the giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas) in the Sacramento Valley of California

By: , and 



Resource managers often have little information regarding the habitat requirements and distribution of rare species. Factor analysis-based habitat suitability models describe the ecological niche of a species and identify locations where these conditions occur on the landscape using existing occurrence data.We used factor analyses to assess the suitability of habitats for Thamnophis gigas (Giant Gartersnake), a rare, threatened species endemic to the Central Valley of California, USA, and to map the locations of habitat suitable for T. gigas in the Sacramento Valley. Factor analyses indicated that the niche of T. gigas is composed of sites near rice agriculture with low stream densities. Sites with high canal densities and near wetlands also appeared suitable, but results for these variables were sensitive to potential sampling bias. In the Sacramento Valley, suitable habitats occur primarily in the central portion of the valley floor. Based upon the results of the factor analyses, recovery planning for T. gigas will require an on-the-ground assessment of the current distribution and abundance of T. gigas, maintaining the few remaining natural wetlands and the practice of rice agriculture in the Sacramento Valley, and studying the effects of agricultural practices and land use changes on populations of T. gigas.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Habitat suitability and conservation of the giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas) in the Sacramento Valley of California
Series title Copeia
Volume 2010
Issue 4
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Publisher location Lawrence, KS
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Copeia
First page 591
Last page 599
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sacramento Valley
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