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1 April 2010 Evaluating Basking-Habitat Deficiency in the Threatened Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
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Abstract

Woody plant succession is hypothesized to threaten many reptile populations by reducing the amount of solar energy available for thermoregulation. Mitigation via vegetation management is often recommended; however, the need for such management practices rarely has been evaluated. We examined the need for basking-site enhancement for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus c. catenatus; hereafter EMR) in New York, USA, where only 2 populations remain: one at an open-canopy site and another at a closed-canopy site. Microhabitat temperatures were substantially lower at the closed-canopy site, where EMRs selected the warmest available basking sites. Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in the open-canopy population selected basking sites that afforded greater cryptic cover. We recommend experimental reduction of shrub cover to improve EMR basking habitat at the closed-canopy site. More generally, we caution that management efforts to reduce shrub cover for basking EMRs should maintain adequate cryptic cover.

Kevin T. Shoemaker and James P. Gibbs "Evaluating Basking-Habitat Deficiency in the Threatened Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake," Journal of Wildlife Management 74(3), 504-513, (1 April 2010). https://doi.org/10.2193/2008-519
Published: 1 April 2010
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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