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Effects of flood suppression on natricine snake diet and prey overlap

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Abstract:

Organisms may become adapted to disturbances when these disturbances occur periodically and at intermediate intensity. To investigate the effects of flood suppression, this study compared diet and competition of semi-aquatic snakes during flood (2000–2001) and no flood (2003–2005) years. Three natricine species, Nerodia erythrogaster (Forster in Bossu, 1771), Nerodia fasciata (L., 1766), and Thamnophis proximus (Say in James, 1823), were palpated for prey items in an east Texas floodplain under both conditions. Prey items were classified as crayfish, salamanders, anurans, or fish. Simpson’s diversity index of prey, frequency of consumed prey type, and prey importance values were compared between flood and no flood years. Pianka’s index of niche overlap was used to compare changes in diet overlap between species in the years with floods and those without. In the absence of floods, the number of prey types consumed by N. erythrogaster and T. proximus decreased. The frequency of prey types consumed during flood years was significantly different from the period of flood suppression for all three species. The order of prey importance also changed in the absence of floods for all three snake species. Without floods, diet overlap decreased between N. erythrogaster and the other two species; however, overlap between N. fasciata and T. proximus doubled.

Les organismes peuvent s’adapter aux perturbations, si celles-ci surviennent de façon périodique et à intensité moyenne. Afin de déterminer l’effet de la suppression des crues sur les couleuvres semi-aquatiques, nous avons étudié leur régime alimentaire et leur compétition durant des années de crues (2000–2001) et des années sans crue (2003–2005). Nous avons palpé trois espèces de natricinés, Nerodia erythrogaster (Forster in Bossu, 1771), Nerodia fasciata (L., 1766) et Thamnophis proximus (Say in James, 1823), pour connaître leurs proies dans une plaine de débordement de l’est du Texas dans les deux conditions de crue. Parmi les proies, nous avons distingué les écrevisses, les salamandres, les anoures et les poissons. Nous avons comparé l’indice de diversité de Simpson des proies, la fréquence de consommation des divers types de proies et les valeurs d’importance des proies pour les années avec et sans crues. L’indice de chevauchement des niches de Pianka a servi à comparer les changements de chevauchement de niches des espèces entre les années avec et sans crues. En l’absence de crues, le nombre de types de proies consommées par N. erythrogaster et T. proximus diminuent. Chez les trois espèces, la fréquence des types de proies consommées durant les années de crue est significativement différente de celle durant la période de suppression des crues. L’ordre d’importance des proies a aussi changé chez les trois espèces de couleuvres en l’absence de crue. Les années sans crue, le chevauchement alimentaire entre N. erythrogaster et les deux autres espèces a diminué; cependant, le chevauchement entre N. fasciata et T. proximus a doublé.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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