Title

Impacts of Invasive Plants on Resource Selection and Thermoregulation by a North American PitViper (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen)

Document Type

Presentation

Presentation Date

2012

Conference Name

World Congress of Herpetology

Conference Location

Vancouver, British Columbia

Abstract

Invasive plants have been identified as a potential factor in the decline of many forms of wildlife. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of clear evidence regarding causative mechanisms. We therefore investigated the effects of nonnative invasive plants on resource selection and thermoregulation by 22 radio-tagged Northern Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen) in southern Indiana. Copperheads exhibited clear avoidance of most invasive plant species at multiple spatial scales, with exotic shrubs having the greatest influence on copperhead habitat selection. Avoidance appears to be at least partially attributable to limited thermoregulatory opportunities within exotic plant-dominated habitats relative to native habitats, with exotic shrub habitats providing the lowest thermal quality as a group. Additional 114 mechanisms underlying avoidance may include lack of suitable cover and/or decreased foraging success, but their significance is currently unclear. Habitat restoration should be effective in mitigating the effects of most exotic plant species, but careful planning and implementation of restoration are essential to maximize success and minimize negative outcomes for snakes and other wildlife.

Keywords

viper, crotalid, conservation, invasive plants, thermoregulation

Disciplines

Biology

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