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27 September 2013 Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) Avoid Crossing Paved Roads, but Not Unpaved Roads
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Abstract

Roads can directly impact animal populations by increasing the risk of mortality; however, a more subtle ecological effect may lie in the way roads impede gene flow by creating barriers to animal movement. We investigated the effect a road network, containing both paved and unpaved surfaces, has on the movement patterns of the Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) in the Long Point region of Ontario, Canada by radio-tracking 17 adult snakes over two years. We used telemetry data collected in the field to infer the minimum number of road crossings made by snakes, and random walk simulations to estimate the number of road crossings snakes would have made if they moved randomly in relation to roads. Comparing the inferred and expected number of crossings allowed us to test the hypothesis that roads constrain movements because snakes avoid crossing them. Overall, the road network did not impede snake movements. When examined separately, however, we showed that road substrate affected movement: snakes avoided crossing paved roads while they crossed sand roads readily. Male and female snakes crossed roads at the same frequency. While the risk of road mortality is reduced by road avoidance, such avoidance of paved roads may contribute to the genetic isolation and further decline of this species-at-risk.

2013 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Laura E. Robson and Gabriel Blouin-Demers "Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos) Avoid Crossing Paved Roads, but Not Unpaved Roads," Copeia 2013(3), (27 September 2013). https://doi.org/10.1643/CE-12-033
Received: 30 November 2011; Accepted: 1 November 2012; Published: 27 September 2013
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