Skip to Main Content
Isolating weather effects from seasonal activity patterns of a temperate North American ColubridAuthor(s): Andrew D. George; Frank R. III Thompson; John Faaborg
Source: Oecologia. 178(4): 1251-1259.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (332.65 KB)
DescriptionForecasting the effects of climate change on threatened ecosystems and species will require an understanding of how weather influences processes that drive population dynamics. We have evaluated weather effects on activity patterns of western ratsnakes, a widespread predator of birds and small mammals in eastern North America. From 2010-2013 we radio-tracked 53 ratsnakes in the fragmented region of central Missouri. We relocated each snake 4x per week and used movement frequency as an index of activity. We used generalized linear mixed models within an information–theoretic approach to evaluate temporal and weather variables as potential predictors of snake activity. While snakes were generally sedentary, activity showed a linear response to relative humidity and a quadratic response to air temperature, peaking near 30 °C. Seasonal activity patterns differed between sexes and among years, but snakes were generally least active in mid-summer, regardless of weather. Our findings provide strong evidence that air temperature and relative humidity differentially affect activity patterns of an important predator and are the mechanism explaining increased nest predation rates with warmer temperatures.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationGeorge, Andrew D.; Thompson, Frank R. III; Faaborg, John. 2015. Isolating weather effects from seasonal activity patterns of a temperate North American Colubrid. Oecologia. 178(4): 1251-1259.
KeywordsClimate change, Elaphe obsolete, Pantherophis obsoletus, Thermal ecology, Western ratsnakes
- Use of trees by the Texas ratsnake (Elaphe obsoleta) in eastern Texas
- Diel activity patterns of the Louisiana pine snakes (Pituophis ruthveni) in eastern Texas
- Prey handling and diet of Louisiana pine snakes (Pituophis ruthveni) and black pine snakes (P. melanoleucus lodingi), with comparisons to other selected colubrid snakes
XML: View XML