Long-Term Response of the Massasauga (Sistrurus Catenatus) to Habitat Alteration from Timber Harvest

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

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

Conference Location

University of Kansas


The quality of properly managed habitat is a high priority in wildlife conservation. Landscape modifications have been implemented by natural resource managers to improve conditions for a variety of imperiled species, but relatively little is known regarding how massasaugas respond to land management. We used radio telemetry to monitor the spatial ecology of snakes before an experimental clear cutting operation, in the short-term (1-2 years) post-cutting, and long-term (>5 years) in northern Michigan. The removal of tree canopy was done in hopes of providing snakes with greater access to basking habitat. Snakes utilized the clear-cuts in the short term, but usage was lower than would be expected by chance. Furthermore, no females gestated or gave birth in manipulated sites during those years. In the long-term, use of the clear-cuts was much higher and two females produced litters within the harvested areas. Our findings suggest that timber harvest is tolerated by massasauga populations, and may also serve as a conservation tool for management of the species.



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