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8 November 2022 Abundance, demography, and harvesting of water snakes from agricultural landscapes in West Java, Indonesia
Mirza D. Kusrini, Ramdani Manurung, Fata Habiburrahman Faz, Aristyo Dwiputro, Arief Tajalli, Huda Nur Prasetyo, Pramitama Bayu Saputra, Umar F. Kennedi, Ditro Wibisono Parikesit, Richard Shine, Daniel Natusch
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Abstract

Context. Across much of its geographic range, the masked water snake, Homalopsis buccata, is harvested each year in large numbers, questioning the sustainability of that offtake.

Aims. To quantify abundance and demography of water snakes in anthropogenically disturbed habitats in an area of West Java, where these snakes are subject to intensive harvest.

Methods. We accompanied professional snake-collectors, and conducted our own surveys of ponds and irrigation canals, to record the numbers and attributes (species, sex, size, etc.) of snakes that were captured using a variety of methods.

Key results. Snakes of several species were abundant, with mean capture rates of 32 666 snakes km−1 of irrigation canals, and 57 501 snakes km−2 of fishponds (9500 and 43 788 for H. buccata alone). Sex ratios of H. buccata were female-biased in ponds but not irrigation channels. Ponds underlain by deeper mud contained more snakes. Collecting methods varied among habitat types, in a way that reduced collateral risk to commercially farmed fish in ponds.

Conclusions. These water snakes are extremely abundant in Java, despite high levels of historical and continuing harvest. The inference of low population sizes for H. buccata in Indonesia, as presented in the IUCN Red List, is erroneous.

Implications. An ability to utilise anthropogenic resource subsidies (in this case, fish farmed in village ponds) allows some native predator species to attain remarkably high abundances, and to withstand intense efforts at harvesting.

Mirza D. Kusrini, Ramdani Manurung, Fata Habiburrahman Faz, Aristyo Dwiputro, Arief Tajalli, Huda Nur Prasetyo, Pramitama Bayu Saputra, Umar F. Kennedi, Ditro Wibisono Parikesit, Richard Shine, and Daniel Natusch "Abundance, demography, and harvesting of water snakes from agricultural landscapes in West Java, Indonesia," Wildlife Research 50(4), 272-282, (8 November 2022). https://doi.org/10.1071/WR22079
Received: 10 May 2022; Accepted: 22 July 2022; Published: 8 November 2022
KEYWORDS
aquatic habitat
conservation
density
Homalopsidae
predator–prey
puff-faced water snake
resource subsidy
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