A Snake Assemblage from an Active Military Installation in South-Central Pennsylvania

Hughes, Daniel F.

Department of Biology

University of Texas at El Paso

500 West University Avenue

El Paso, Texas 79968, USA

Delis, Pablo R.

Department of Biology

Shippensburg University

1871 Old Main Drive

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania 17257, USA

Meshaka, Jr., Walter E.

Section of Zoology and Botany

State Museum of Pennsylvania

300 North Street

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120, USA

Biodiversity declines in wetland environments are increasing globally. Knowledge of how populations respond to wetland-modification practices in protected areas will help us to better manage portions of the remaining biotas. To that end, we examined the assemblage structures of snake populations occupying artificial wetlands of various sizes during the active season of 2012 (April–October) at Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD), located in Franklin County, south-central Pennsylvania, USA. Using standardized cover-board sampling and opportunistic searches, employed on a monthly basis, we detected five snake species across four artificial wetlands: Common Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis), Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon), Eastern Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum), North American Racer (Coluber constrictor), and Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus). In this presentation, we present data on seasonal activity, demographics, micro-habitat preferences, and assemblage structures derived from these snake populations. Based on our findings and comparisons to other snake studies, we advocate that wetland ecosystem manipulation can indirectly promote the diversity and demographic health of wetland-associated snake populations in similar protected areas.