Effects of roadways on seasonal movement strategies and mate location success in an imperiled pit viper (Crotalus horridus)

Elizabeth Noble, Georgia College & State University
Anna Tipton


Understanding animal movement behavior is fundamental to effective conservation and management. Within populations, various movement strategies can be displayed in search of critical resources, and these strategies are influenced by multiple factors related to individuals and the environment. Mating partners are one critical resource that affect movement during mating seasons. For many large-bodied snakes, male mate-searching movements are the primary determinant of mate location success, however, males incur significant risks associated with elevated movement. In an increasingly human-modified world, this often includes increased interactions with anthropogenic landscape features. A recent range-wide status assessment for Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) identified roadways among the leading threats to population persistence, and more specifically in the Piedmont ecoregion of Georgia, USA. Before effective management can be developed, it is critical to identify behavioral mechanisms that mediate the relative risk that roads pose to populations and individuals. Beyond road mortality, the sub-lethal effects of roads remain largely untested in snakes. In order to fill these gaps and better inform conservation, I propose an integration of radio telemetry and accelerometry to quantify the effects of proximity to roads and road interaction frequency on mate searching movements and mate location success in C. horridus from the Georgia Piedmont.