Managed Areas as Ecological Traps for Snakes in an Exotic Plant-Invaded Landscape

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

World Congress of Herpetology

Conference Location

Vancouver, British Columbia


Areas such as wildlife refuges or parks offer important opportunities for the protection of imperiled wildlife. Unfortunately, conflicting practices and objectives with respect to natural resource management and general property management can potentially lead to negative outcomes such as the decline or extirpation local flora or fauna. Here, we provide direct evidence of the impacts of property management and restoration activities on a population of Northern Copperheads ( Agkistrodon contortrix mokasen ) in southern Indiana, showing that several managed habitats can and do attract Northern Copperheads and simultaneously place them at greater risk of injury and/or mortality. At the same time, however, management activities create or maintain forest gaps, providing thermoregulatory opportunities in an otherwise low quality, exotic plant-invaded, landscape. We discuss our results in terms of the ecological trap concept and provide management recommendations that should be applicable to multiple forms of wildlife beyond Northern Copperheads.


viper, crotalid, conservation, invasive plants, thermoregulation, ecological traps



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