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Snake communities on the urban fringe in the Sonoran Desert: influences on species richness and abundance
- Sullivan, Brian K., Leavitt, Daniel J., Sullivan, Keith O.
- Urban ecosystems 2017 v.20 no.1 pp. 199-206
- biocenosis, habitats, inventories, snakes, species diversity, traps, urban development, Arizona, Sonoran Desert
- Sonoran Desert habitat in southern Arizona is increasingly altered by urban development near metropolitan areas. Understanding how reptiles respond in these impacted habitats is critical to conservation efforts to retain intact biotic communities, especially those with a high diversity of reptile species. We surveyed snakes at one impacted site on the northern edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area in desert/urban interface, and at another site in a desert/rural interface near Florence, Arizona. The site near Phoenix was lower in species richness (15 spp.), and evenness: two snake species accounted for 75 % of all snakes encountered (total = 420). The site near Florence was higher in species richness (19 spp.), and a more even community: no species accounted for more than 20 % of snakes encountered (total = 594). Sampling methodology had a strong influence on species richness and abundance of snakes at the respective sites: road riding, coverboards, and traps each provided evidence of unique species missed by other methods. These results were compared with inventories at three other sites in the central Sonoran Desert of Arizona, and are consistent with the view that the impacted site near Phoenix is uneven, potentially as a result of a single species reacting to shifts in prey availability.