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1 May 2005 Buffer Zone Applications in Snake Ecology: a Case Study Using Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
Eric D. Roth
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Riparian areas alone are often insufficient for preservation of riparian taxa. Case studies on many vertebrate taxa have addressed the importance of establishing buffer zones around riparian habitats. The goal of this investigation was to build upon previous studies and assess the relative importance of buffer zones to riparian snakes. A case study was conducted on a Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma) population within a stream/riparian habitat. Using radio-telemetry, I examined the spatial distribution of males, gravid females, and non-gravid females. Although 83% of all snake observations were within 10 m of the stream, population subunits exhibited different patterns of spatial use. Gravid females provided most of the distant observations, inhabiting the surrounding terrestrial habitat up to 94 m from the shoreline. Thus, disturbances to terrestrial areas surrounding the riparian habitat would likely have the greatest impact on gravid females. These results further establish a need for buffer zones around riparian ecosystems, and highlight the importance of considering spatial use differences between population subunits when outlining buffer zone applications for conservation management.

The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Eric D. Roth "Buffer Zone Applications in Snake Ecology: a Case Study Using Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus)," Copeia 2005(2), 399-402, (1 May 2005).
Accepted: 8 December 2004; Published: 1 May 2005
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