Preliminary evaluation of the impact of roads and associated vehicular traffic on snake populations in eastern Texas

  • Rudolph D
  • Burgdorf S
  • Conner R
 et al. 
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Roads and associated vehicular traffic have often been implicated in the decline of snake populations. Radio-telemetry studies have documented vehicle related mortality as a factor in Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni) and timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) populations in eastern Texas. The hypothesis that existing road networks depress populations of large snake species was tested using a trapping protocol to sample snake populations at five distances from road corridors: 50, 250, 450, 650, and 850 m. Results suggest that populations of large snake species are reduced by 50% or more to a distance of 450 m from roads with moderate use. There was no indication that trap captures had reached an asymptote at a distance of 850 m. On a landscape scale, quantification of the density of the road network suggests that populations of large snakes may be depressed by 50% or more across eastern Texas due to road associated mortality.

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  • D.C. Rudolph

  • S.J. Burgdorf

  • R.N. Conner

  • R.R. Schaefer

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