The British Herpetological Society

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.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2020 Impact Factor for the Herpetological Journal is 0.862

pdf 06. Habitat use and age structure of the Fer-de-Lance (Bothrops asper, Viperidae) in Braulio Carrillo National Park, Costa Rica


Open Access

pp. 46-54

Authors: Daniel G. Ramírez-Arce, Alejandro Zúñiga-Ortiz & Dennis K. Wasko

Abstract: The Fer-de-lance or terciopelo (Bothrops asper) inhabits a wide range of environmental conditions and habitats across Central America. While much information on the species is based on anecdotal observations and museum specimens, data collected under natural conditions are more limited. To better document its natural history, this study sought to determine the habitat use and age structure of B. asper in the Quebrada Gonzalez sector of Braulio Carrillo National Park, Costa Rica. Snake surveys were conducted from January 2015 to August 2017 and used to evaluate the population age-class distribution and sex ratio. To evaluate macrohabitat use, surveys were conducted in four habitat types (mature forest, late succession, early succession, and human infrastructure). Microhabitat use was determined by recording several structural variables at each snake location and at random sites. Amphibians were sampled in each habitat type to evaluate the available prey base. Fifty-five individuals were captured, mostly females and juveniles, with five recaptures. Snakes were encountered in all habitat types but most often in early succession forests, which have dense vegetation cover and high prey availability. Snakes selected areas with heavy understory cover when resting, and more exposed sites, often closer to bodies of water, when ambushing prey or moving. Human-disturbed sites were used least. Although snake encounters did tend to correlate with higher amphibian abundance, other factors such as mammalian prey abundance could also influence snake distribution.

Keywords: occupancy, population ecology, habitat selection, behaviour, predator-prey relationship

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