Effects of temperature, moon phase, and prey on nocturnal activity in Ratsnakes

An automated telemetry study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Nocturnal activity is important for many animals, but difficulty in documenting that activity has hampered efforts to understand factors that influence when animals are active at night. We used automated radiotelemetry to provide the first detailed tests of the hypothesis that the nocturnal activity of free-ranging snakes should be influenced by temperature, moon phase, and prey abundance by using data for Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spp.) from Texas and Illinois. Ratsnakes exhibited some nocturnal behavior throughout their active season in both Texas and Illinois, although snakes were much more active at night in Texas than in Illinois. Texas snakes transitioned from primarily diurnal activity to primarily nocturnal activity over this snake's active season, whereas Illinois snakes were always most active in the middle of the day. For both populations, nocturnal activity was positively related to temperature but unrelated to moon phase. Ratsnakes in Texas exhibited a stepwise increase in nocturnal activity in mid-summer, independent of temperature and coincident with the shift in their diet to almost exclusively mammals active at night. Given the ability of snakes in both populations to be active at night when temperatures allow, warming climates could lead to an increase in nocturnal activity, with consequences for both the snakes and the species on which they prey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Fingerprint

nocturnal activity
lunar phase
telemetry
snake
snakes
temperature
diurnal activity
radiotelemetry
animal
night temperature
radio telemetry
effect
global warming
animals
mammal
warming
mammals
diet
summer
climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Effects of temperature, moon phase, and prey on nocturnal activity in Ratsnakes : An automated telemetry study. / Sperry, Jinelle H.; Ward, Michael Patrick; Weatherhead, Patrick J.

In: Journal of Herpetology, Vol. 47, No. 1, 01.03.2013, p. 105-111.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{080776563f584f1893d8e72bc8ddc4fc,
title = "Effects of temperature, moon phase, and prey on nocturnal activity in Ratsnakes: An automated telemetry study",
abstract = "Nocturnal activity is important for many animals, but difficulty in documenting that activity has hampered efforts to understand factors that influence when animals are active at night. We used automated radiotelemetry to provide the first detailed tests of the hypothesis that the nocturnal activity of free-ranging snakes should be influenced by temperature, moon phase, and prey abundance by using data for Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spp.) from Texas and Illinois. Ratsnakes exhibited some nocturnal behavior throughout their active season in both Texas and Illinois, although snakes were much more active at night in Texas than in Illinois. Texas snakes transitioned from primarily diurnal activity to primarily nocturnal activity over this snake's active season, whereas Illinois snakes were always most active in the middle of the day. For both populations, nocturnal activity was positively related to temperature but unrelated to moon phase. Ratsnakes in Texas exhibited a stepwise increase in nocturnal activity in mid-summer, independent of temperature and coincident with the shift in their diet to almost exclusively mammals active at night. Given the ability of snakes in both populations to be active at night when temperatures allow, warming climates could lead to an increase in nocturnal activity, with consequences for both the snakes and the species on which they prey.",
author = "Sperry, {Jinelle H.} and Ward, {Michael Patrick} and Weatherhead, {Patrick J}",
year = "2013",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1670/11-325",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "47",
pages = "105--111",
journal = "Journal of Herpetology",
issn = "0022-1511",
publisher = "Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Effects of temperature, moon phase, and prey on nocturnal activity in Ratsnakes

T2 - An automated telemetry study

AU - Sperry, Jinelle H.

AU - Ward, Michael Patrick

AU - Weatherhead, Patrick J

PY - 2013/3/1

Y1 - 2013/3/1

N2 - Nocturnal activity is important for many animals, but difficulty in documenting that activity has hampered efforts to understand factors that influence when animals are active at night. We used automated radiotelemetry to provide the first detailed tests of the hypothesis that the nocturnal activity of free-ranging snakes should be influenced by temperature, moon phase, and prey abundance by using data for Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spp.) from Texas and Illinois. Ratsnakes exhibited some nocturnal behavior throughout their active season in both Texas and Illinois, although snakes were much more active at night in Texas than in Illinois. Texas snakes transitioned from primarily diurnal activity to primarily nocturnal activity over this snake's active season, whereas Illinois snakes were always most active in the middle of the day. For both populations, nocturnal activity was positively related to temperature but unrelated to moon phase. Ratsnakes in Texas exhibited a stepwise increase in nocturnal activity in mid-summer, independent of temperature and coincident with the shift in their diet to almost exclusively mammals active at night. Given the ability of snakes in both populations to be active at night when temperatures allow, warming climates could lead to an increase in nocturnal activity, with consequences for both the snakes and the species on which they prey.

AB - Nocturnal activity is important for many animals, but difficulty in documenting that activity has hampered efforts to understand factors that influence when animals are active at night. We used automated radiotelemetry to provide the first detailed tests of the hypothesis that the nocturnal activity of free-ranging snakes should be influenced by temperature, moon phase, and prey abundance by using data for Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spp.) from Texas and Illinois. Ratsnakes exhibited some nocturnal behavior throughout their active season in both Texas and Illinois, although snakes were much more active at night in Texas than in Illinois. Texas snakes transitioned from primarily diurnal activity to primarily nocturnal activity over this snake's active season, whereas Illinois snakes were always most active in the middle of the day. For both populations, nocturnal activity was positively related to temperature but unrelated to moon phase. Ratsnakes in Texas exhibited a stepwise increase in nocturnal activity in mid-summer, independent of temperature and coincident with the shift in their diet to almost exclusively mammals active at night. Given the ability of snakes in both populations to be active at night when temperatures allow, warming climates could lead to an increase in nocturnal activity, with consequences for both the snakes and the species on which they prey.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84875983267&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84875983267&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1670/11-325

DO - 10.1670/11-325

M3 - Article

VL - 47

SP - 105

EP - 111

JO - Journal of Herpetology

JF - Journal of Herpetology

SN - 0022-1511

IS - 1

ER -