Habitat, connectivity, and viability of a timber rattlesnake metapopulation in southwestern Massachusetts
September 2009 - May 2014
- Cooperative Research Unit Program
Timber rattlesnakes were once found throughout Massachusetts but currently are restricted to only 5 sites as a result of habitat changes and persecution by humans. To help inform conservation of the species, we have begun to examine the genetic connectivity of the remaining populations, their use of habitats, and the corridors of movement between sites. Because the largest remaining metapopulation in the state is connected to sites in New York and Connecticut, we are working in collaboration with biologists from both of these states. Results of population genetic analyses should inform which corridors of movement need to be maintained and source populations for possible re-introduction of animals to sites where they have been extirpated. Movement data will be used by MassWildlife to identify land parcels in need of protection.