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Population dynamics of a Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) population studied for over 40 years

Tetzlaff, Sasha

Ecological Processes Branch US Army ERDC-CERL

Champaign, Illinois USA

Hileman, Eric

Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Mississippi State University

Starkville, Mississippi USA

Davis, Mark A.

Illinois Natural History Survey

Prairie Research Institute

Champaign, Illinois USA

Schuett, Gordon W.

Department of Biology

Georgia State University

Atlanta, Georgia USA

Chiricahua Desert Museum

Rodeo, New Mexico USA

Simon, Matt

New York, New York USA

Brown, William S. Biology Department Skidmore College Saratoga Springs, New York USA

The Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is a long-lived North American pitviper that has slow maturation, infrequent reproduction, and low fecundity. This species is of conservation concern throughout much of its existing range. However, long-term data for adequately characterizing population dynamics to inform conservation management actions are lacking. We are investigating the demography of a Timber Rattlesnake population in New York, USA that William S. Brown initiated studies on over four decades ago. In this area, the species was historically subjected to intense harvesting via a bounty system. Preliminary findings suggest this population experiences roughly decadal cycling in annual apparent survival estimates that range from approximately 0.7 to nearly 1.0. We intend to model additional parameters, such as abundance and population growth, that will be helpful to the ecology and management of this and other populations of C. horridus. Our analysis highlights the importance of long-term data for long-lived species with slow life histories.


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