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Tuesday, January 26 • 10:20am - 10:40am
Minimizing Eastern Massasauga Management-Based Mortality with a Predictive Egress Phenology Model

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

ABSTRACT: The eastern massasauga Sistrurus catenatus is endemic to the Great Lakes region and is considered threatened or endangered range-wide 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. Current eastern massasaugas land management practices require periodic burning or mowing to maintain habitat suitability and halt succession. Unfortunately, these practices are known to cause snake mortality when conducted during the active season. To address this, we deployed on‐site weather stations at seven eastern massasauga study sites in IA, IL, OH (2 sites), and MI (3 sites). Weather stations logged hourly air (at 1.5 M) and soil temperature (at depths of 10, 30, 60, and 100 cm). We identified dates of spring emergence using a combination of intensive visual searches, radio telemetry, and camera traps. These data were used to validate a predictive egress phenology model and clarify geographic patterns of variation in the timing of eastern massasauga emergence. This model has the potential to predict when prescribed fire or ground-disturbing management activities are least likely to cause direct snake mortality.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am EST