Moving day and night: highly labile diel activity patterns in a tropical snake

Abom, Rickard, Bell, Kris, Hodgson, Lauren, and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2012) Moving day and night: highly labile diel activity patterns in a tropical snake. Biotropica, 44 (4). pp. 554-559.

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Most animals have well established diel activity patterns (e.g., diurnal, crepuscular, or nocturnal), and changes in behavior from diurnal to nocturnal are rare in single species. We radio tracked 50 keelback snakes in a single population, locating them up to four times a day, over five periods of the year in the Australian dry tropics to describe temporal variation in diel movement patterns. Snake body temperatures were also recorded to determine the relationship between activity patterns and body temperatures. Season influenced diel activity patterns significantly. Keelbacks were more likely to move, and moved further in the daytime in the mid-dry (June–July), and late dry (Aug–Sep) seasons. In the mid-dry season, 87 percent of movements were diurnal, whereas in the mid-wet (Feb–March) season, although snakes were much more likely to move, only 43 percent of movements were diurnal. In the late dry season, snakes were slightly more likely to move at night than at any other time of day, and so at this time of the year, snakes could be classified as nocturnal. Thus, overall increased movements in the mid-wet season (austral summer) were associated with more crepuscular and nocturnal movement. There was a significant relationship between individual snake body temperatures and movement rates in all seasons. Changes in movement patterns may be related to body temperature, and this diurnal species becomes cathemeral in the tropics in summer, when it is possible to maintain high body temperatures both day and night.

Item ID: 23080
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-7429
Keywords: diel activity, dry tropics, environmental temperatures, keelback snake, seasonal wetland, Tropidonophis mairii
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2012 05:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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