Movement Patterns of Eastern Black-tailed Rattlesnakes (Crotalus ornatus) in the Northern Chihuahuan

Emerson, James D.

Mata-Silva, Vicente

Johnson, Jerry D.

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Texas at El Paso

El Paso, TX USA

Rattlesnakes play a vital role in the ecosystems in which they are present, serving as large predators and prey simultaneously. Because of this, ecological information is desperately needed amid current local and global threats to support the conservation and protection of these species in the fragile environments in which they are found. Studies detailing how organisms move throughout the ecosystem provide valuable information, including the amount of area required, activity periods, and habitat use, which address questions needed to initiate conservation goals. Historically, Black-tailed Rattlesnake research in the U.S. focused on Arizona populations, thus the recent re-validation of Crotalus ornatus has created a void of ecological information on this northern Chihuahuan Desert dwelling species. The goal of this study is to utilize radio telemetry to gain insights into the movement patterns of C. ornatus at the Indio Mountains Research Station, located in the Indio Mountains of Hudspeth County, Texas. Radio-telemetry data were used to gain insights into the movement patterns, such as home range sizes, movement frequencies, mean daily movements, and movement differences between the sexes, of C. ornatus. Males snakes, as expected, exhibit larger home range sizes, move more frequently, and move greater distances than females.