Title

The Habitat Selection and Movement Patterns of Crotalus oreganus by Radio Telemetry Tracking

Presenter Information

Brian Andrews

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

Crotalus oreganus, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, is the only species of rattlesnake that inhabits the Pacific Northwest. These snakes can be found in a variety of microhabitats, from rocky slopes to sagebrush flats. I sought to test whether rattlesnakes show a preference for a particular microhabitat type and if that preference varied seasonally. To investigate whether or not Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes choose habitats at random, we implanted radio transmitters into seven rattlesnakes at the beginning of June 2012 and tracked them through their habitats over the course of a year. Four individuals were tracked in the shrub-steppe outside of Ellensburg, WA, and the remaining three were tracked in the shrub-steppe and dry coniferous forest of the Methow valley in northern Washington. I recorded percent cover of forest, sage, grass, bare soil, and rocky habitats for each location where snakes moved within their home ranges. In addition, temperature loggers were placed at each site to record air temperatures through the summer, and placed at their hibernacula sites to record overwintering temperatures. Snakes chose certain microhabitats over others, and spent the winter in communal hibernacula under rock outcrops. One snake at the site outside of Ellensburg spent the majority of the time under rock outcrops or along the margins of a dense wetland. The knowledge obtained by this study will help us better understand what microhabitats rattlesnakes prefer, and their important role in the shrub-steppe ecosystem.

Poster Number

18

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dan Beck

Additional Mentoring Department

Biological Sciences

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The Habitat Selection and Movement Patterns of Crotalus oreganus by Radio Telemetry Tracking

SURC Ballroom C/D

Crotalus oreganus, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, is the only species of rattlesnake that inhabits the Pacific Northwest. These snakes can be found in a variety of microhabitats, from rocky slopes to sagebrush flats. I sought to test whether rattlesnakes show a preference for a particular microhabitat type and if that preference varied seasonally. To investigate whether or not Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes choose habitats at random, we implanted radio transmitters into seven rattlesnakes at the beginning of June 2012 and tracked them through their habitats over the course of a year. Four individuals were tracked in the shrub-steppe outside of Ellensburg, WA, and the remaining three were tracked in the shrub-steppe and dry coniferous forest of the Methow valley in northern Washington. I recorded percent cover of forest, sage, grass, bare soil, and rocky habitats for each location where snakes moved within their home ranges. In addition, temperature loggers were placed at each site to record air temperatures through the summer, and placed at their hibernacula sites to record overwintering temperatures. Snakes chose certain microhabitats over others, and spent the winter in communal hibernacula under rock outcrops. One snake at the site outside of Ellensburg spent the majority of the time under rock outcrops or along the margins of a dense wetland. The knowledge obtained by this study will help us better understand what microhabitats rattlesnakes prefer, and their important role in the shrub-steppe ecosystem.