Student Honors Theses

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Spring 2013


Roadways negatively affect their surrounding ecosystems through the contamination of air, water, and soil resources, the dissection of populations and habitat areas, and the direct mortality of several fauna. My study assessed the significance of a number of variables that might influence the temporal and spatial patterns of road mortality in a population of Midland Brownsnakes (Storeria dekayi wrightorum). I utilized passive sampling techniques and roadwalking surveys to collect individual snakes from a road during their biannual migrations from lowland activity areas to upland forests where they hibernate. I discovered that sexually biased behavioral and natural history traits impacted an individual’s survivorship. Using a GIS, I was able to locate clusters of snake movement where individuals are drawn to cross in association with certain habitat types, topographic cues, or possibly even the scent trails made by other migrating snakes. Overall, this population may require the construction of below-grade ecopassages in order to mitigate mortality.

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