Reptiles are in decline worldwide and despite their ecological importance, insufficient data exist to accurately assess many species at the population and landscape levels. Therefore estimating occupancy or abundance of imperiled species is a critical conservation concern. Certain taxa, such as snakes, can exhibit cryptic behaviors and occur at low densities, further hampering population assessments. In order to accurately evaluate snake populations it is important to understand and account for behavioral patterns influencing detectability, e.g. spring emergence for snakes. Since 1999, we have been monitoring an eastern massasauga Sistrurus catenatus population at Carlyle Lake, Illinois to provide a complete view of the species’ ecology. We conducted annual visual encounter surveys during spring emergence periods in occupied and potential habitat. Our objectives for this study were to determine what factors affect detection probability and capture-yield of eastern massasaugas with the goal of maximizing both. Of 27 detection models examined, the best model included size of habitat patch searched, start time, starting air temperature, mean three-day maximum air temperature, starting humidity, mean search effort, and solar radiation. Of the 26 capture yield models examined, the best model included size of habitat patch searched, starting humidity, mean search effort, and solar radiation. Together, these models can be applied to design survey protocols maximizing detection and capture yield of individuals throughout the species’ range.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Great Waters, Great Lands, Great Responsibilities: 76th Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference, January 24-27, 2016, Grand Rapids Michigan|
|State||Published - 2016|