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Extrinsic factors affecting the survival of Sistrurus catenatus

Hiner, Blaine

Dreslik, Michael J.

LaGrange, Seth

Illinois Natural History Survey

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois USA

Baker, Sarah

Science Department

McNeese State University

Lake Charles, Louisiana USA

Combatting declines often requires data targeted at specific threats whether intrinsic or extrinsic. Unfortunately, such data are difficult to obtain for most snake species due to their cryptic nature. Although the Eastern Massasauga exhibits great plasticity in habitat preference range-wide, they have suffered from habitat loss and fragmentation. Survival estimates are critical for understanding population dynamics at individual sites. Extrinsic factors affecting survival could include the time between management burns, flooding events, aberrant seasonal climate, and differences in growing seasons. Using a long-term capture-mark-recapture dataset (1999 - present), we will determine if extrinsic management and climate factors affect survival rates in the Eastern Massasauga. Analyzing environmental factors could prioritize resources toward more site-specific habitat management to mitigate environmental factors negatively impacting survival. Potential habitat management recommendations could include increased riparian buffers near Eastern Massasauga sites to decrease intense flood frequency or alterations in burn intervals.