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1 June 2004 ANALYSIS OF PATTERNS OF AGGREGATION UNDER COVER OBJECTS IN AN ASSEMBLAGE OF SIX SPECIES OF SNAKES
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Abstract

Use of cover objects for hiding is a well developed behavior in reptiles, including snakes. Snakes sometimes aggregate under cover objects, which may reflect a shortage of suitable cover, very favorable conditions, social attraction, or simply chance. However, most studies of aggregation behavior have been conducted in the laboratory. In this study, I investigated the tendency of six species of snakes to aggregate under rocks in the field in southern Ontario, Canada. Most snakes under rocks were by themselves, but I found single- and mixed-species aggregations of up to four snakes. Although all species were involved in mixed-species aggregations, I did not find all possible combinations of species; no aggregations involved more than two species. Goodness-of-fit tests suggested that the pattern of aggregation sizes was well described by a geometric distribution, implying a nonrandom tendency toward aggregation. Nonetheless, because data were pooled over time, random occurrence of aggregation cannot be ruled out. However, aggregations were clearly nonrandom in another sense: individuals in aggregations tended to be the same size, perhaps indicating size-specific choice of rock and/or fellow snake. Careful field experimentation will be required to test these ideas.

Patrick T. Gregory "ANALYSIS OF PATTERNS OF AGGREGATION UNDER COVER OBJECTS IN AN ASSEMBLAGE OF SIX SPECIES OF SNAKES," Herpetologica 60(2), 178-186, (1 June 2004). https://doi.org/10.1655/02-101
Accepted: 1 September 2003; Published: 1 June 2004
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