Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Matthew Niemiller

Committee Member

Zachary Culumber

Committee Member

Skylar Hopkins


Snakes--Conservation--Alabama, Snakes--Mortality--Alabama, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge (Ala.)


Snakes are important predators and prey in North American food webs that exhibit seasonal activity patterns in temperate regions. During periods of heightened activity, they will often utilize roads both for traveling from one habitat patch to another and/or for thermoregulation. In this thesis, I explore how human recreational activities impact the diversity and distribution of snake communities by examining the relationships between seasonality of human recreational activities and gravel road closures for waterfowl management on snake road mortality and activity at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alabama, USA. Many studies have investigated how snakes interact with paved roads, but there is little literature documenting how they may use gravel roads within a protected area, such as a wildlife refuge. We identified a total of 121 snakes (12 species) from our VES surveys and 91 snakes (9 species) from our road surveys. While we identified the most common species within the refuge, we likely underestimated overall species richness. We identified seasonal road trends in detectability across all snake species. While our occupancy values were high, our detection values ranged from 0.29—0.34 for all snakes. We had an abnormally low number of dead-on road snakes. While this could be due to the nature of the refuge, it could also be due to limitations of our study design. We recommend Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge employ brief seasonal road closures during periods of peak snake activity.



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