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Hardwick, GA, United States

Stevenson D.J.,Project Orianne Ltd. | Bolt M.R.,Code Corporation | Smith D.J.,University of Central Florida | Enge K.M.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | And 5 more authors.
Southeastern Naturalist | Year: 2010

Prey items for the federally protected Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) were compiled from published and gray literature, field observations, necropsies, dissection of museum specimens, and personal communications from reliable sources. One hundred and eighty-six records were obtained for 48 different prey species. Anurans, Gopher Tortoises, snakes, and rodents comprised ca. 85% of the prey items. Most records (n = 143) that mentioned size were from adult indigos; 17 were from juveniles. Prey records were collected from 1940-2008 and were available for all months of the year. These data confirm that Eastern Indigo Snakes eat a wide assortment of prey of varying sizes. This strategy allows D. couperi to potentially forage successfully in many different types of habitats and under fluctuating environmental conditions, a valuable trait for a top-level predator that requires a large home range.

Carlson-Bremer D.,University of California at Davis | Norton T.M.,St. Catherines Island Foundation | Norton T.M.,Georgia Sea Turtle Center | Gilardi K.V.,University of California at Davis | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2010

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus palliatus) is the only species of oystercatcher native to the Atlantic coast of North America and is restricted in distribution to intertidal shellfish beds in coastal areas. Currently, the American Oystercatcher population in South Carolina and Georgia is threatened by widespread habitat loss, resulting in low reproductive success and small population size. Oystercatchers could be an important indicator of ecosystem health because they depend on quality coastal breeding habitat and prey on bivalves, which can accumulate toxins and pathogens from the local environment. Data were collected from American Oystercatchers (n = 171) captured at five sites in South Carolina and Georgia between 2001 and 2006. Iridial depigmentation was frequently noted during physical examination and was more prevalent in female birds. Female birds were larger than males on average, but ranges for weight and morphometry measurements had considerable overlap. Mean values were calculated for hematology, plasma biochemistry, and hormone levels, and prevalence of exposure to select pathogens was determined. Mercury was the only trace metal detected in blood samples. These data provide baseline health information needed for longitudinal monitoring and conservation efforts for American Oystercatchers. In addition, this study illustrates the potential use of this species as an indicator for the health of the southeastern US coastal nearshore ecosystem. © Wildlife Disease Association 2010.

Tuberville T.D.,Savannah River Ecology Laboratory | Norton T.M.,St. Catherines Island Foundation | Norton T.M.,Georgia Sea Turtle Center | Buhlmann K.A.,Savannah River Ecology Laboratory | Greco V.,St. Catherines Island Foundation
Herpetological Conservation and Biology | Year: 2015

Viability models of turtle populations have shown that after adult survivorship, juvenile survivorship is the most influential parameter affecting population persistence. This suggests that increasing juvenile survivorship, such as through head-starting, might be a useful management strategy. Little is known about survivorship and ecology of juveniles of most turtle species, including even wellstudied species such as the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). Limited data on the fate of headstarted tortoises further constrains attempts to evaluate head-starting as a management tool. We summarize our experiences head-starting Gopher Tortoise hatchlings as part of reintroduction efforts at Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina, USA, and St. Catherines Island (SCI), Georgia, USA, and compare survivorship of head-started hatchlings with juveniles manipulated using other techniques. Hatchlings exhibited nearly 100% survivorship during the captive head-start period, but survivorship during the first year post-release varied among cohorts: 17 of 32 (53.1%) 2001 SRS hatchlings, seven of seven (100%) 2005 SCI hatchlings, and one of 32 (3.1%) 2006 SCI hatchlings. For two cohorts, head-started hatchlings performed as well as older non-head-started juvenile tortoises. At least 20.0% of St. Catherines Island neonates that we released into temporary predator-proof cages shortly after hatching (i.e., without head-starting) were known to have survived through their first winter dormancy. Survivorship for all manipulated hatchlings (regardless of treatment) was lowest during the first year post-release. The potential role of head-starting as a management tool merits further investigation. We recommend that future studies include an experimental component to allow critical evaluation of the techniques implemented. © 2015. Tracey D. Tuberville. All Rights Reserved.

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