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Tuesday, January 26 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Variation In Life History Traits: A Range-Wide Synthesis for the Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus)

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AUTHORS: Eric T. Hileman*, Northern Illinois University; Richard B. King, Northern Illinois University; Eastern Massasauga Group, Northern Illinois University

ABSTRACT: Intraspecific variation among life history traits influence fitness and indirectly determines reproduction and survival success. Selective pressures imposed by local conditions can result in life history trait trade-offs that are heterogeneous between populations. This may be particularly true for species with broad distributions or for those that occur in small geographic areas where fine-scale climate and environmental factors (e.g., productivity) vary sharply across the landscape. The distribution of the Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) is centered on the Great Lakes region where local conditions are strongly influenced by lake-effect and geographic coordinates. This species is considered threatened or endangered everywhere it occurs except for Michigan, where it is a species of special concern. In 2015 it was proposed for listing as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation efforts for the Eastern Massasauga are hampered by information gaps in life history traits (e.g., size‒fecundity relationship) and demography (e.g., population growth). To address these gaps, we compiled life history information from peer-reviewed publications, technical reports, and >60 collaborators for 47 study sites representing 38 counties in nine states and provinces. From these data, we identified nine life history variables expected to vary geographically and influence population growth. To elucidate patterns of variation in life history, we used multimodel inference and general linear models with geographic coordinates and four different 30-year averaged annual climate normals as explanatory variables. We found strong evidence for geographic and climatic patterns in life history traits in six of the nine variables. It is unclear whether the observed patterns in Eastern Massasauga life history characteristics reflect plastic responses or heritable traits. Regardless of the underlying mechanisms, our results will inform conservation efforts by improving biological realism for models of population viability and climate change.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST