An Examination of Scale-Dependent Resource Use by Eastern Hognose Snakes in Southcentral New Hampshire

Kirk Lagory, Leroy Walston, Celine Goulet, Robert Lonkhuyzen, Stephen Najar, Christian Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

decline of many snake populations is attributable to habitat loss, and knowledge of habitat use is critical to their conservation. Resource characteristics (e.g., relative availability of different habitat types, soils, and slopes) within a landscape are scale dependent and may not be equal across multiple spatial scales. Thus, it is important to identify the relevant spatial scales at which resource selection occurs. We conducted a radiotelemetry study of eastern hognose snake {Heterodon platirrinos) home range size and resource use at different hierarchical spatial scales. We present the results for 8 snakes radiotracked during a 2-year study at New Boston Air Force Station (NBAFS) in southern New Hampshire, USA, where the species is listed by the state as endangered. Mean home range size (minimum convex polygon) at NBAFS (51.7 ? 14.7 ha) was similar to that reported in other parts of the species' range. Radiotracked snakes exhibited different patterns of resource use at different spatial scales. At the landscape scale (selection of locations within the landscape), snakes overutilized old field and forest edge habitats and underutilized forested habitats and wetlands relative to availability. At this scale, snakes also overutilized areas containing sandy loam soils and areas with lower slope (mean slope = 5.2% at snake locations vs. 6.7% at random locations). We failed to detect some of these patterns of resource use at the home range scale (i.e., within the home range). Our ability to detect resource selection by the snakes only at the landscape scale is likely the result of greater heterogeneity in macrohabitat features at the broader landscape scale. From a management perspective, future studies of habitat selection for rare species should include measurement of available habitat at spatial scales larger than the home range. We suggest that the maintenance of open early successional habitats as a component of forested landscapes will be critical for the persistence of eastern hognose snake populations in the northeastern United States.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1387-1393
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Volume73
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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