Habitat Associations of the Eastern Hognose Snake at the Northern Edge of Its Geographic Distribution: Should a Remnant Population Guide Restoration?

Celine Goulet, John A. Litvaitis, Michael N. Marchand

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4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Heterodon platirhinos (Eastern Hognose Snake [EHS]) is a species of conservation concern in the northeastern United States. As an initial step toward potential restoration, we examined habitat associations of a peripheral population of EHS in New Hampshire. At the landscape scale, transmitter-equipped snakes were found most often in developed lands, followed by, in order of frequency, mixed forest, Pinus strobus/P. resinosa (Eastern White/ Red Pine) stands, and 7 other cover types. Within individual home ranges, snakes selected Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) stands most often, followed by, in order of frequency, White/Red Pine stands, mixed forest, Fagus grandifolia/Quercus spp. (American Beech/ oak) stands, and 6 other cover types. Compared to random locations, microhabitat features at snake activity sites included higher ground-surface temperatures, closer proximity to wetlands, less canopy closure, and more abundant shrubs, ground debris, and rock cover. When combined with a previous study conducted in the same area, we found that cover-type associations (mesic forest) of this population differed from known affinities (open, xeric habitats) of EHS throughout much of its geographic distribution. Home ranges were also larger than those reported in most studies. We suspect our population persists because it occurs in a large parcel of land with limited human alteration and use. Habitat there is suitable but likely is not optimal. Such limitations should be considered when selecting sites to establish new populations of EHS in northern regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-540
Number of pages11
JournalNortheastern Naturalist
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Snakes
  • Garter snakes
  • Snake

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