SREL Reprint #2737

 

 

 

Aspects of the ecology of small fossorial snakes in the western piedmont of North Carolina

John D. Willson and Michael E. Dorcas

Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28035

Abstract: In many areas, small fossorial snakes are among the most abundant vertebrates present; yet, the ecology of these species remains poorly understood. Between 1999 and 2002 we collected 210 small fossorial snakes representing five species in a small area of northern Mecklenburg and southern lredell Counties, North Carolina. The eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus; n = 116) was the most frequently captured species in this region, with fewer numbers of ringneck snakes (Diadophis punctatus; n = 44), brown snakes (Storeria dekayi; n = 24), redbellied snakes (S. occipitomaculata; n = 20), and smooth earth snakes (Virginia valeriae; n = 6). The three most abundant species exhibited significant sexual dimorphism, with females being larger and having shorter relative tail lengths than males. Carphophis amoenus were more abundant in dry upland forest than D. punctatus, which were most prevalent in moist, lowland forest. Snake activity was weakly correlated with environmental conditions. A peak in activity of male C. amoenus, D. punctatus, and S. occipitomaculata during September suggests fall breeding seasons for these species.

SREL Reprint #2737

Willson, J. D. and M. E. Dorcas. 2004. Aspects of the ecology of small fossorial snakes in the western piedmont of North Carolina. Southeastern Naturalist 3:1-12.

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