Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

Abstract

Snake species usually exhibit seasonal variations in activity patterns, home-range size and the use of respective habitat. Using mark-recapture protocols I marked 96 individual Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis specimens in Lake Forest, IL to determine the independent variables that best explained habitat selection in a population of Eastern Garter Snakes (T. s. sirtalis). Specifically, I focused on the relationship between seasonal movement and home range size of male and female garter snakes. I analyzed the habitat preferences and spatial ecology of Eastern Garter Snakes during the 2011 sampling season and modeled the relationship between preferred or avoided habitat, in conjunction with gender and season. During spring, males averaged 16.42 ± 36.86 m (S.D.), while females averaged 11.74 ± 33.29 m (S.D.) (W=1258, p=0.3367, no significant difference). Summer movement was lower for males and higher for females, males averaged 1.16 ± 5.20 m (S.D.) and females averaged 18.67 ± 37.71 m (S.D.) (W=414.5, p=0.0087). For 2011, males' home range averaged 60.48 ± 62.73 m2 (S.D.), while females averaged 549.2 ± 125.16 m2 (S.D.) (W=0, p=0.095, no significant difference). T. s. sirtalis' presence for 2011 was best predicted by spatial factors, which was location of nearest crayfish burrows (R2= 94 - 98%). These findings, and those of previous investigations on the activity patterns of snake species, suggest that there is a difference between gender movement and activity patterns specific to season.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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