Abstract

Worldwide, snake populations are threatened by anthropogenic impacts such as habitat alteration. Conservation efforts are being implemented, but many of these impacts are hard to overcome. Herpetological studies in anthropogenically affected areas are few and inconsistent. This study assesses the snake community at Shippensburg University, which is affected by urban and agricultural stresses. From 2011 to 2015, we deployed and checked 42 cover boards. Four species were detected: the eastern gartersnake (Thamnophissirtalis sirtalis), the northern watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon), the eastern ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis), and the eastern milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum). This anthropogenically impacted assemblage was uneven, dominated by the eastern gartersnake, and comprised fewer snakes than in natural habitats elsewhere in Pennsylvania. This study provides a measure of how snakes can respond in one of many kinds of human-impacted sites in the Commonwealth and highlights the effect that seasonal mowing can have on snake assemblages.

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