Differential effects of an intense wildfire on survival of sympatric snakes

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Journal Article
Journal of Wildlife Management, 2008, 72 (6), pp. 1394 - 1398
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We analyzed 16 years of mark-recapture data to investigate whether a wildfire influenced survival of an arboreal ambush-forager (broad-headed snake [Hoplocephalus bungaroides]) and a terrestrial active forager (small-eyed snake Cryptophis nigrescens). We predicted that wildfire would cause direct mortality and reduce subsequent survival of both snake species. Contrary to this prediction, wildfire did not affect abundance of broad-headed snakes, but abundance of small-eyed snakes decreased by 48% after the wildfire. Estimated annual survival of small-eyed snakes was 37% lower after fire (s= 0.47, SE = 0.07) than before fire (s = 0.74, SE = 0.05). Prescribed burning may be a suitable tool for creating open habitat mosaics for the endangered broad-headed snake.
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