The southeastern United States is host to eastern diamondback and timber rattlesnakes. Urbanization and sprawl in the lower Coastal Plain contribute to habitat loss, fragmentation and predator removal. Further, the state of wildlife health in rattlesnakes as affected by human activity is unknown although other wildlife has exhibited compromised health states from anthropogenic and ecological stressors. We focused on mainland (Bluffton, Beaufort County, SC) and barrier island (Jekyll Island, Glynn County, GA) field sites. Both sites are undergoing development and are actively engaged in strategizing land use appropriations and wildlife management approaches that maximize coexistence ability with human residents and visitors. Specifically, we use mark-recapture, radio telemetry, and health assessments to determine both individual and population-level effects of anthropogenic land uses on coastal rattlesnakes. We are examining survivorship along with individual spatial and health responses to habitat fragmentation and disturbance. These research initiatives connect wildlife ecology, health, human sociology, and land use planning to determine the most ecologically and economically sustainable approaches for coastal rattlesnake conservation.
Photos courtesy of ©Breanna Ondich.