Year of Publication

2016

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. Steven J. Price

Abstract

Snake species are notoriously difficult to study in the field due to their cryptic natural-histories and secretive behaviors. Difficulties associated with detection present challenges estimating parameters including occupancy and abundance, as well as responses to habitat degradation. Our objectives were to use Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) telemetry to enhance detection of Queensnakes (Regina septemvittata) as compared to traditional capture-mark-recapture (CMR) survey techniques and to examine occupancy and abundance of Queensnakes and Northern Watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) in streams of differing levels of anthropogenic impact within Central Kentucky. During 2013, we captured Queensnakes and implanted them with PIT tags. We detected significantly more tagged snakes using PIT telemetry than visual surveys. We did not observe significant differences in numbers of snakes detected using PIT telemetry at different times of day. We observed relatively high site fidelity of individuals. During 2014, we conducted point-count surveys of Northern Watersnakes and Queensnakes in streams characterized as highly degraded and lightly impaired. We estimated occupancy and conditional abundance among site types. We did not observe significant differences in occupancy or abundance between historically highly-impacted sites and less-impacted sites. We were able to determine significance of some environmental variables influencing detection of snakes.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2016.430

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