Eastern Indigo Snake Population Viability and Connectivity
The Orianne Society
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Dr. Kevin McGarigal
The eastern indigo snake is a federally threatened species that occurs in southern Georgia and Florida. This species has declined throughout its range due primarily to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as historical over-collecting. Although eastern indigo snakes will utilize disturbed or human modified habitats, such as cattle ranches, agriculture, and citrus, it is largely unknown if and how these disturbed habitats contribute to maintaining population viability. As human development continues to increase in peninsular Florida, it is important to identify areas that can support viable populations and determine the extent to which disturbed habitats can help maintain these populations. The primary goal of my research is determine how landscape composition and configuration influences eastern indigo snake population viability in central Florida using two approaches.
The first approach will use population viability modeling to identify areas that may support viable populations of eastern indigo snakes and determine how landscape composition and configuration influences population viability. This model will be individual-based and will simulate the movements, survival, and reproduction of individual snakes. I have been conducting a radio telemetry study on eastern indigo snakes in Highlands County, Florida, supported by The Orianne Society and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will provide much of the data to parametrize the model.
The second approach will use landscape genetics to evaluate how landscape composition and configuration, particularly disturbed habitats, influences connectivity among eastern indigo snake populations. To accomplish this, we are collecting tissue samples from eastern indigo snakes across central Florida.
By combining these two approaches, we hope to identify important conservation areas for eastern indigo snakes in central Florida and potential corridors among those areas.
Page updated: February 19, 2013