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Tuesday, February 7 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Technical Session. Detection and Occupancy of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Across Southern Michigan

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AUTHORS: Stephanie A. Shaffer, Henry Campa, III, Gary Roloff - Michigan State University; Daniel Kennedy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: The eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus; EMR) is a species of special concern in Michigan and is currently proposed for federal listing as threatened. Additionally, EMRs are listed as threatened or endangered in every other state and province within its range hence improved techniques for reliably determining site occupancy during the active season are critical. In the summer months of 2015 and 2016 we developed and conducted 167 EMR detection surveys throughout southern Michigan at 20-ha sites within four study areas, Seven Lakes State Park (Seven Lakes), Baker Audubon Sanctuary (Baker), Ives Road Fen (Ives), and Liberty/Grand River Fen (Liberty), where EMR occupancy was confirmed with radio telemetry. We temporally replicated visual encounter surveys using randomized observers and start times (surveys of the same site were conducted at least approximately 24 hours apart). We a priori identified environmental (e.g., air temperature, ground surface temperature, solar radiation, and humidity) and surveyor (e.g., individual, level of experience) variables thought to be important to EMR detection and recorded that information for each survey. We detected 18 EMR across all surveys.  The number of EMR detected per study area were: 6, 3, 1, and 8 at Seven Lakes, Baker, Ives, and Liberty, respectively. An intercept-only detection model (i.e., no site or environmental covariates) with fixed occupancy indicated a detection probability of 0.11 (SE = 0.03). We report on our more heavily parameterized detection models and, based on our top-ranking model, estimate the minimum number of surveys needed to reliably detect EMR. We offer our models as a standardized method for determining occupancy of EMR at specific locations throughout southern Michigan. 

Tuesday February 7, 2017 2:20pm - 2:40pm CST
Arbor I/II