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Offspring condition determines dispersal patterns in western whip snakes, Hierophis viridiflavus

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Dispersal patterns from a communal nesting/birth site of hatchlings of the oviparous colubrid snake Hierophis viridiflavus were investigated using capture-mark-recapture data from a 17-year study. We found that hatchlings lighter at birth dispersed more than heavier ones, whereas after one year there was no difference in body mass between the individuals which rested close to their birth site and those which dispersed further. We interpret this result as an adaptive dispersal behaviour in which heavier newborn snakes are less inclined to disperse from the hatching site, whereas lighter snakes move further away to increase their foraging efficiency.
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Keywords: BODY MASS; CENTRAL ITALY; COLUBRIDAE; COMMUNAL NESTING; DISPERSAL BEHAVIOUR; HIEROPHIS VIRIDIFLAVUS

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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