Title

Influence of Supplemental Feeding on Spatial Ecology and Habitat Use of Male Massasaugas (Sistrurus Catenatus)

Document Type

Presentation

Presentation Date

8-2-2015

Conference Name

Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles 58th Annual Meeting

Conference Location

University of Kansas

Abstract

Due to low energy demands and infrequent feeding, little is known about potential fitness trade-offs for temperate pitvipers which must balance remaining stationary to acquire and digest food while traversing large areas to procure mating opportunities. We radio-tracked 16 male Massasaugas (Sistrurus catenatus) from May to August 2014 in northern Michigan, half of which were fed a supplement diet of mice, and compared body condition as well as space and habitat use between the two treatments. Fed snakes were in better body condition than unfed controls at the end of the study. Microhabitat selection of fed snakes did not differ from controls. Prior to the mating season, fed snakes had smaller activity ranges than controls, but there was no difference in activity range size or movement patterns during the breeding period. Our results suggest supplemental feeding reduced movements related to foraging prior to the breeding season, but movements associated with finding mates exert a significant pressure on males, causing them to forgo stationary digestion in exchange for increasing the prospect of reproducing. Given the infrequent reproductive rates of female Massasaugas in northern latitudes, intense mate searching by males may be a fixed behavior in these populations, regardless of food intake.

Disciplines

Biology

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