Snake fungal disease distribution in the Driftless Area, Wisconsin, USA

Authors: Caleb Cizauskas*, University of Wisconsin - Platteville, John D Peterson, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Matthew Allender, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Emilie Ospina, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Christopher A Underwood, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Topics: Biogeography, Environmental Science, Animal Geographies
Keywords: herpetology, snake fungal disease, biogeography, ecology
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download

We are researching environmental stressors that negatively affect snake populations in the Upper Midwest region of the United States. Specifically, we are monitoring snake populations in Southwest Wisconsin for snake fungal disease (SFD), a disorder that is caused by infections of the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola. This fungus affects snake populations by restricting feeding and drinking capabilities and increases susceptibility to predation. Snake fungal disease has been found in many snake species in Wisconsin and Illinois where populations have declined regionally. We conducted studies at Eagle Valley Nature Preserve in Glen Haven, Wisconsin, and in Memorial Park on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. We placed 306 habitat boards at Eagle Valley and 70 habitat boards in Memorial Park and monitored the boards for approximately six months. Species of interest for SFD in our study area are the prairie ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus arnyi), eastern milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum), red milk snake (Lampropeltis Triangulum syspila), plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix), DeKay’s brownsnake (Storeria dekayi), and gray ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides). More than 326 snakes were identified and 265 snakes were tested for signs of SFD. We are using the data that were collected to map distributions of affected snakes and their habitats, determine ideal snake habitats, quantify snake species richness and diversity, and investigate microclimates in relation to spatial distributions throughout Southwestern Wisconsin. These data will also assist in predictions of proliferation of snake fungal disease and its progression toward other populations

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