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Tuesday, January 26 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Habitat Use and Detection of The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Across Southern Michigan

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AUTHORS: Stephanie A. Shaffer*, Michigan State University; Henry Campa, III, Michigan State University; Gary Roloff, Michigan State University; Daniel Kennedy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

ABSTRACT: The eastern massasauga rattlesnake Sistrurus catenatus catenatus (EMR) is a species of special concern in Michigan, currently being considered for listing as threatened. The EMR is threatened or endangered in all other states and Canadian provinces within its range. For this research, our objectives were to assess habitat use, detectability, and occupancy of the EMR throughout southern Michigan in areas of varying habitat quality. We will present our detection survey methodology, summary of EMR captures, and preliminary results from the 2015 field season. We identified 27 20ha sites in 3 different focal areas across southern Michigan. Each focal area included 3 low, medium, and high-quality ranked sites based on the composition, structure, and distribution of land cover types (9 total sites per focal area). We used vegetation characteristics associated with Bailey’s (2010) Habitat Suitability Index model to quantify habitat quality designations for each site. A total of 9 individual EMRs (6 adults, 3 juveniles) were telemetered at 5 of these 27 sites. Fifteen additional EMRs were PIT tagged within the same 5 sites. We temporally replicated a standardized survey methodology for EMRs to estimate detection probability. Environmental variables and surveyor characteristics were measured to determine factors potentially influencing detection (e.g., solar radiation, ground surface temperature, air temperature). Telemetered snakes were used to definitively define sites as occupied for a subset of our surveys. Forty-seven detection surveys were conducted on 11 sites (3 low suitability, 4 medium suitability, and 4 high suitability). Program PRESENCE will be used to determine detection probability within our study sites, incorporating the environmental and surveyor covariates into the model. Our results will provide insights into using standardized survey methodologies for EMR that will ultimately lead to a better understanding of habitat conditions needed to support populations of the EMR in southern Michigan.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm
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Attendees (24)