DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1245.2011.00223

Asian Herpetological Research 2011/2:4 PP.223-229

Spatial Ecology of Translocated and Resident Amur Ratsnakes (Elaphe schrenckii) in Two Mountain Valleys of South Korea

The translocation of snakes has been viewed as a useful tool to augment declining populations and to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, even though released snakes often exhibit relatively high mortality. We radio-tracked 13 Amur Ratsnakes (Elaphe schrenckii) in the Woraksan National Park in South Korea from July 2008 to May 2009. Two of these snakes were residents, and 11 had been illegally captured in areas remote from the study site and were donated by the park office. During the study period, six of the translocated snakes were lost: two were killed by predators, one died of unknown causes, and the radio signals of three of the snakes were lost. In the field, the ratsnakes laid eggs in early August, moved into hibernacula in late November, and moved away from the hibernacula in mid-April. Compared to the resident snakes, five of the translocated snakes traveled approximately 1.3 times farther per week, and the home ranges of the translocated snakes were three to six times larger than those of the resident snakes. In addition, the translocated snakes were found underground more frequently than the resident snakes. The management recommendations resulting from this study will guide biologists and land use managers in making appropriate decisions regarding release sites and the use of gravid females in the translocation of this endangered ratsnake.

Key words:Amur Ratsnake, conservation, Elaphe schrenckii, radiotelemetry, translocation

ReleaseDate:2014-07-21 16:05:28

An J., Kim M. J., Park D., Lee J., Krukov V., Kim K. S., Lee H., Min S. M. 2010. Development of 10 microsatellite loci from the Korean Ratsnake (Elaphe schrenckii) and its application across Elaphe species from South Korea, Russia, and China. Genes Genom, 32: 401-405

Armstrong D. P., Seddon P. J. 2008. Directions in reintroduction biology. Trends Ecol Evol, 23: 20-25

Blouin-Demers G., Weatherhead P. J. 2001. Thermal ecology of Black Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsolete) in a thermally challenging environment. Ecology, 82: 3025-3043

Blouin-Demers G., Weatherhead P. J. 2002. Habitat-specific behavioral thermoregulation by Black Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta). Oikos, 97: 59-68

Brown J. R., Bishop C. A., Brooks R. J. 2010. Effectiveness of short-distance translocation and its effects on western rattlesnakes. J Wildlife Manage, 73: 419-425

Butler H., Malone B., Clemann N. 2005a. Activity patterns and habitat preferences of translocated and resident Tiger Snakes (Notechis scutatus) in a suburban landscape. Wildlife Res, 32: 157-163

Butler H., Malone B., Clemann N. 2005b. The effects of translocation on the spatial ecology of Tiger Snakes (Notechis scutatus) in a suburban landscape. Wildlife Res, 32: 165-171

Dodd Jr C. K., Seigel R. A. 1991. Relocation, repatriation, and translocation of amphibians and reptiles: Are they conservation strategies that work? Herpetologica, 47: 336-350

Durner G. M., Gates J. E. 1993. Spatial ecology of Black Rat Snakes on Remington farms, Maryland. J Wildlife Manage, 57: 812-826

Fischer J., Lindenmayer D. B. 2000. An assessment of the published results of animal relocations. Biol Conser, 96: 1-11

Germano J. M., Bishop P. J. 2008. Suitability of amphibians and reptiles for translocation. Conserv Biol, 23: 7-15

Kang Y. S., Yoon I. B. 1975. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Faunaand Flora of Korea: Vol.17. Amphibia, Reptilia. Seoul: Samwha Publishing Co (In Korean)

Lee H. J., Lee J. H., Park D. 2011. Habitat use and movement patterns of the viviparous aquatic snake, Oocatochus rufodorsatus, from Northeast Asia. Zool Sci, 28: 593-599

Mullin S. J., Seigel R. A. 2009. Snakes: Ecology and Conservation. New York: Cornell University Press

Paik N. K. 1979. Ecological study of Elaphe schrenckii in Korea.Nat Conserv, 27: 1-4 (In Korean)

Plummer M. V., Mills N. E. 2000. Spatial ecology and survivorship of resident and translocated Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos). J Herpetol, 34: 565-575

Prior K. A., Weatherhead P. J. 1996. Habitat features of Black Rat Snake hibernacula in Ontario. J Herpetol, 30: 211-218

Reading C. J., Luisell L. M., Akani G. C., Bonnet X., Amori E., Ballouard G. M., Filippi E., Naulleau G., Pearson D., Rugiero L. 2010. Are snake populations in widespread decline? Biol Lett,

Reinert H. K. 1991. Translocation as a conservation strategy for amphibians and reptiles: Some comments, concerns, and observations? Herpetologica, 47: 357-363

Reinert H. K., Rupert Jr R. R. 1999. Impacts of translocation on behavior and survival of Timber Rattlesnakes, Crotalus horridus. J Herpetol, 33: 45-61

Roe J. H., Frank M. R., Gibson S. E., Attum O., Kingsbury B. A. 2010. No place like home: an experimental comparison of reintroduction strategies using snakes. J Appl Ecol, 47: 1253-1261

Row J. R., Blouin-Demers G. 2006. Kernels are not accurate estimates of home-range size for herpetofauna. Copeia, 2006: 797-802

Schulz K. D. 1996. A Monograph of the Colubrid Snakes of the Genus Elaphe Fitzinger. Wurselen, Germany: Koeltz Scientific Books

Shine R. 1985. The Evolution of Viviparity in Reptiles: An Ecological Analysis. In Gans C., Billett F. (Eds.), Biology of the Reptilia. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 605-694

Sperry J. H., Taylor C. A. 2008. Habitat use and seasonal activity patterns of the Great Plains Ratsnake (Elaphe guttata emoryi) in central Texas. Southwest Nat, 53: 444-449

Sperry J. H., Weatherhead P. J. 2009. Does prey availability determine seasonal patterns of habitat selection in Texas Ratsnakes? J Herpetol, 43: 55-64

Stickel L. F., Stickel W. H., Schmidt F. C. 1980. Ecology of a Maryland population of Black Rat Snake (Elaphe o. obsoleta). Am Midl Nat, 103: 1-14

Woo H. J., Ryu S. H., Jang K. H., Choi E. H., Kim S. K., Hwang U. W. 2009. Mitochondrial genome of the Korean colubrid snake Elaphe schrenckii (Reptilia; Squamata; Colubridae). Mitochondr DNA, 20: 107-109

Zhou Z. Y., Zhou Y. F. 2004. Preliminary observations on ecology of Elaphe schrenckii (Strauch) (Plate VII). Sichuan J Zool, 23: 188-190 (In Chinese)

Zhou Z. Y. 2005. Elaphe schrenckii and E. anomala, two related species or with subspecific relation. Sichuan J Zool, 24: 283-286 (In Chinese)