Moving from one location to another provides animals with obvious benefits, but also incurs costs. When and how far an animal chooses to move is thus of fundamental importance to all aspects of its biology. We investigated movement patterns in a population of Namaqua Dwarf Adders (Bitis schneideri) in southern Africa through the use of radio telemetry. We measured how many individuals moved at different times of the day, at different times of the year, and differences in displacement frequency between sexes. We also assessed the influence of environmental variables (air temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure, and wind speed) on activity levels. Snakes moved almost exclusively during the day-light hours, despite our expectations from the literature. Namaqua Dwarf Adders show limited seasonal variation in activity levels, with males moving more frequently during spring months than in other seasons. Our analysis indicated that movement was linked most closely to environmental conditions during the winter season, when conditions were generally less suitable for movement. We hypothesize that the observed variation in movement patterns at all temporal scales is the result of the selective pressure imposed by the costs of activity during sub-optimal environmental conditions.
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Vol. 2012 • No. 4