Distribution, habitat, and zoogeography of the semifossorial red-bellied snake Storeria occipitomaculata (Storer) in Illinois

Lauren E. Brown, Christopher A. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The examination of 387 preserved red-bellied snakes, Storeria occipitomaculata, from 18 museums and collections, literature records, and unpublished records revealed distributional records throughout much of Illinois, in contrast to earlier studies which found a more limited distribution. Seventy-one records of habitat types from museum records, field notes, and literature indicated that the species occupies woodlands but is not primarily forest adapted. It also inhabits prairie and prairielike habitats in Illinois. The common occurrence of this species in this type of habitat has not heretofore been reported elsewhere in the range of the snake. Our findings do not support an older zoogeographic theory that assumed the snake was nonadapted for prairie and thus excluded from the Prairie Peninsula. We propose that the species was able to occupy the area near the ice rim of the Wisconsin Episode glaciation, and followed the glaciation as it retreated because of the snake’s cold tolerance, ability to inhabit northern prairies and coniferous forests, vivipary which allows thermoregulation by gravid females, and the relatively temperate climate along the glacial rim. Within recent times, it seems likely that the snake was extirpated throughout much of the former prairie by destructive changes associated with agriculture.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
Pages (from-to)297–322
JournalIllinois Natural History Survey Bulletin
Volume39
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • INHS

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution, habitat, and zoogeography of the semifossorial red-bellied snake Storeria occipitomaculata (Storer) in Illinois'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this