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Eastern Indigo Snake Study...Hello Natalie & more...

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Posted by regalringneck on February 26, 2003 at 06:30:01:

In Reply to: Eastern Indigo Snake Study posted by NatalieHyslop on February 24, 2003 at 21:25:44:

Hello Natalie, welcome to our guardian- cyberworld!
I am a biologist/Ntrl. Res. Mngr. out in arid-Arizona!
Besides an interest in these mega-colubrids, I am attempting to unravel the autecology of a very interesting obscure micro-colubrid here; the regal ringneck (Diadophis regalis [note my non-use of "punctatus regalis"...], hence my screenname :)

From the few photos Dean published here, I am very impressed with the apparent condition of the guardians on your study site. Do you intend to monitor their weight through time? I suggest it can be one indicator of habitat quality on the adults. As I am somewhat familiar with the published work (see biblio @, I have seen nothing regarding population density estimation. With your marked group you have an opportunity to estimate this parameter on your study site via the Lincoln index, or more simply & conservative; a quantification of your marked snakes to the size of your study site. I hope you choose to examine this parameter. Two more suggestions for now; You could track your capture success per unit effort & likely detect pop. change, if it occurs, in the length of your study, this data could also serve as a baseline for other studies.

As Im sure you are aware, non-marked adults may well have unique characters and thus can be used as a control to test your fundamental assumption that the telemetry itself does not effect survival/behavior/etc. (too often I have seen... it does).

Its wonderful to hear you are conducting a field investigation involving Drymarchon. I look forward to your participation on this forum, & intend to read your eventual Dissertation.

Please feel free to contact me @

Cheers & Beers, John Gunn

Eastern Indigo Snake Study

Posted by NatalieHyslop on February 24, 2003 at 21:25:44:

I want to thank Dean and the newly formed group for considering me as a donation recipient! As Dean mentioned, I am conducting a radiotelemetry study on wild eastern indigo snake populations in south Georgia, examining the spatial ecology (home range, movements, etc.) and habitat use of the species. This study constitutes my doctoral research as a graduate student at the University of Georgia. I have included a more formal summary of my work at the end of this post.

Although I am extremely grateful to my major funding source, I am still operating on a very limited budget. As I am sure you all know, these amazing snakes are capable of equally impressive movements, requiring long hours in the field. Your donations will aid in the overall quality of this work by allowing the project to hire a field technician to ensure adequate and continuous data collection throughout the year. A more compete data set will give a more inclusive picture of the snakesí spatial ecology and habitat use. These aspects of a speciesí ecology are vital for conservation and allow for informed management decisions.

I began fieldwork this past December and to date have 12 wild caught snakes (including one that Dean caught). I already have over 2 months of radiotelemetry data for some of the snakes caught in December. I have also installed 18 large snake funnel and drift fence traps that I am using to evaluate trapping as a possible way to survey for eastern indigo snakes.

I appreciate this opportunity to address the forum and to be considered for funding - I will be happy to answer any questions!

Eastern indigo snake spatial ecology and habitat use in Georgia

The eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), the largest North American snake species, has been federally listed as threatened since 1978, due primarily to anthropogenic habitat loss and degradation. Despite its federal protective status, relatively little research has been conducted regarding this species across its remaining geographic range of southeastern Georgia and Florida. In Georgia, indigo snakes are known to use xeric sand hill habitats during their winter breeding season; however, warm season habitat use is virtually unknown. In addition, no reliable methods of locating and surveying this species in Georgia, other than winter gopher tortoise burrow searches, are known. As upland habitat loss and alteration continues across the southeastern United States, it is important to determine site fidelity to winter sand hill habitats and the dependency of the snakes on gopher tortoise burrows on these sand ridges.
The goals of this research are to hierarchically determine indigo snake seasonal habitat use and spatial ecology in Georgia. In addition, I will examine annual survival, mortality factors, thermal ecology, and develop survey techniques for the species during the late spring through early fall. To address these objectives, indigo snakes will be captured on sand ridges near winter refugia, implanted with radiotransmitters, and tracked for approximately 32 months. In addition, I will install eighteen large snake traps on the sand ridges near areas of historic indigo activity. Results of this research will contribute significantly to the knowledge of the eastern indigo snake while providing accurate information for management and conservation.

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