Ecology of Three Sonoran Desert Rattlesnake Species at an Urbanizing Site

Huerta, Diego

Goode, Matt

Wildlife Conservation and Management

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

Among snake species, rattlesnakes are one of the most studied groups. However, there exist significant gaps in our knowledge of how urban development affects rattlesnakes. Understanding anthropogenic impacts associated with urban development is critical for developing effective conservation strategies. We examine responses to urban development among three rattlesnake species: Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), Tiger Rattlesnake (Crotalus tigris), and Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus). Since 2002, we have conducted repeated surveys at Stone Canyon, an urbanizing residential development located at the base of the Tortolita Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. Making use of our long-term dataset, we compare relative abundance, growth rates, reproduction, body size, and other aspects of rattlesnake ecology. We discuss our results as they relate to rattlesnake ecology in general, and to the influence of anthropogenic factors on populations over time.

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