Density, Recapture Probability, Biomass, Productivity, and Population Structure of Sidewinders (Crotalus cerastes) in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Daniel J. Leavitt, Ashley A. Grimsley


The objective of this work was to gather baseline demographic data on C. cerastes, both because they are a top predator and no data are currently available for the Sonoran Desert regarding their density. Between 17 to 28 August, 2015 and 14 to 25 September, 2015 we surveyed two rectangular 9 hectare (ha) plots, one south of Yuma (BOR) and one on the Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) in Yuma County, Arizona. We conducted visual encounter surveys and applied mark-recapture techniques to determine population dynamics. We marked 61 C. cerastes (20 adults and 41 juveniles) and had 9 recaptured adults and 6 recaptured juveniles during the course of the study. Adult population estimates (±SE) for the 9 ha plots were 11.76±1.76 (BMGR) and 17.93±12.58 (BOR) and juvenile estimates were 70.90±27.48 and 74.47±28.69, respectively. Density estimates found in the Sonoran Desert were much higher than those estimated from the Kelso Dunes (Brown, 1970) and suggested by Greene (1997). In addition, our adult to juvenile ratio suggests that recruitment into this population is tracking expectations (Reiserer, 2001).

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