The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.
Authors: Andreu Rotger, Victor Colomar, Jorge Enrique Moreno & Luis Parpal
Abstract: Photo-identification is an increasingly used method for the study of animal populations. Natural marks such as coloration or scale pattern to identify individuals provide an inexpensive and less invasive alternative to conventional tagging methods. Photo-identification has previously been used to distinguish individual snakes, usually by comparing the pileus region. Nevertheless, this method is seldom used in capture-recapture studies. We show the effectiveness of photo-identification in snakes using specific software for individual recognition applied to a wildlife control study of horseshoe whip snakes. Photos were analysed with Automatic Photo Identification Suite (APHIS), which allowed us to compare the variability of head scale patterns surrounding the parietal shields instead of the traditional method of using large scale groups of the pileus. APHIS correctly identified 100 % of recaptures of snakes. Although further studies are needed, the variability of the surrounding scales of the pileus region seems a robust method to identify and differentiate individuals.
Keywords: Photo-identification, capture-recapture, scale patterns, invasive snake, wildlife control