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Keywords:

  • eastern diamondback rattlesnake;
  • canebrake rattlesnake;
  • Crotalus adamanteus;
  • Crotalus horridus;
  • home range;
  • habitat specificity;
  • habitat selection;
  • pine savanna

Abstract

Large home-range size and habitat specificity are two commonly cited ecological attributes that are believed to contribute to species vulnerability. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake Crotalus adamanteus is a declining species that occurs sympatrically with the more abundant canebrake rattlesnake Crotalus horridus in a portion of the south-eastern Coastal Plain, USA. In this study, we use the ecological similarities of the two species as experimental controls to test the role of home-range size and habitat specificity in the imperilment of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. We used analysis of variance to investigate differences in home-range size between the two species, and home-range selection was modeled as habitat use versus availability with a case control sampling design using logistic regression. We failed to detect differences in home-range size between the two species; therefore, we could not identify home-range size as an attribute contributing to the imperilment of eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes selected pine savannas to a degree that suggests that the species is a habitat specialist. Of the two factors examined, habitat specificity to the imperiled longleaf pine ecosystem may be a significant contributor to the decline of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.