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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

INTEGRATING RADIO TELEMETRY AND ACCELEROMETRY TO EVALUATE THE EFFECTS OF ROADWAYS ON THE MOVEMENT BEHAVIOR OF TIMBER RATTLESNAKES (CROTALUS HORRIDUS)**

Abstract

Roadways are among the most widespread anthropogenic land use features that impact wildlife. Negative impacts include vehicle-induced mortality, habitat degradation and fragmentation, and the disruption of movement. Conversely, roadways can also create edge habitat that might offer benefits to many species. Historically, radio telemetry derived spatial data has been used to estimate the total extent of space used by individual snakes (i.e., home range size) and has represented an important tool for inferring movement-based responses to prominent landscape features, such as roads. However, the estimate of an animal’s home range size alone largely ignores the equally important temporal dimension of animal movement, as individuals can alter the frequency and duration of movements independent of spatial shifts in home range sizes. To allow for a more comprehensive evaluation of the movement response of snakes to roadways, we are using a novel integration of emerging spatial analyses and tri-axial accelerometry in Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) from central Georgia. The total space use of each individual will be determined by calculating seasonal home ranges and occurrence distributions (i.e. Minimum Convex Polygons, Kernel Density Estimators; dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Models). Accelerometers will simultaneously provide long-term and continuous activity budgets to quantify “real-time” movement patterns. Generalized linear mixed effect models will be used to investigate the relationship between these spatial and temporal metrics and the mean Euclidian distance to the nearest roadway. We hope to provide a widely applicable and improved methodological framework for investigating the interactions between snakes and landscape heterogeneity.

Acknowledgements

The GCSU Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Herpetologists' League provided funding for this research

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