SAG Dana Payne Fund Award Recipient 2011:


The Snake Advisory Group steering committee is pleased to announce that Jennifer Fill, University of South Carolina- Columbia, has been awarded $500 from the SAG Dana Payne Fund for her proposal “Conservation of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) and its imperiled habitat.”


Project Summary:


Tracked as a species of concern in several states throughout its range, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) is a longleaf pine endemic that has suffered drastic population reductions due to the loss of its habitat, especially in North and South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem is currently listed as vulnerable, with less than 1.4% of its historical extent remaining due to human land use practices and fire exclusion.  Fire is a keystone process within pine savanna woodlands and many of the longleaf pine endemic species are dependent on growing season fire for the maintenance of suitable habitat.  In the absence of the natural fire regime, landowners use prescribed fire as an important tool for habitat management, yet there is considerable debate on how fire should be used to achieve multiple management objectives, including ecosystem restoration and species conservation.  Remaining tracts of longleaf pine are therefore subject to fires applied in different seasons, which may affect their restoration potential. The purpose of this study is to use the body condition (e.g., health) of C. adamanteus, which is an apex predator in southeastern pine savanna-woodlands, as a signal of the effectiveness of management practices for restoring and maintaining longleaf pine habitats that are under various fire-management regimes, while maintaining the persistence of endemic species.


Radio telemetry will be used to monitor free ranging C. adamanteus over multiple years in longleaf pine sandhills and flatwoods in the South Carolina Coastal Plain at three study sites that are under growing and dormant season fire regimes.  The results of this study will serve to inform land managers on the burn regime that is most effective for restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and conservation of endemic species, and will also provide data on population status, ecology, and habitat use of C. adamanteus

Crotalus adamanteusCrotalus adamanteus

Eastern Diamandback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Restraining an Eastern Diamondback during fied processing

Jennifer Fill, University of South Carolina - Columbia