The influence of habitat structure on squamate species richness in the Coastal Plain of Georgia
Schlimm, Elizabeth Marie
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Squamate communities are a diverse and important group in the longleaf pine ecosystem. I examined the efficacy of a box trap array sampling method to sample squamate communities and used the method to examine the influence of habitat structure on squamate species richness at two spatial scales in the Coastal Plain of Georgia. I also developed a habitat suitability model for the southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus) for the region. My results suggest that squamate behavior, specifically habit (i.e., arboreal, fossorial, and terrestrial) has the potential to bias captures by the box trap sampling method. Species richness models documented the importance of wetland and forested habitat structure at a local and landscape scale to squamate communities. The southern hognose snake habitat suitability model identified areas of potentially suitable habitat throughout the Coastal Plain where targeted surveys and research can be focused.