Thanks to research by a University of Cincinnati undergraduate student and two team members, there's a new tool that's now been tested and found to work in continuously recording the habits of snakes.
This small-scale study is the first-ever use of Lotek Archival Tags (LATs) on snakes, since the LAT devices were originally developed for use in avian and fish species due to LATs' ability to measure temperature and pressure measuring pressure translates into altitude and depth.
UC's Lauren Flick, a triple-major pursuing simultaneous undergraduate degrees in biology, psychology and criminal justice, will present the findings of the snapshot study, "Comparing the Effectiveness of Lotek Archival Tags (LATs) in a Behavioral Study of the Lake Erie Water Snake," at the March 23-25 Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference, a conference specifically for undergraduate and graduate student research that will draw representatives from regional schools.
Participating in the study with Flick were lead researcher Kristen Stanford, a doctoral student at Northern Illinois University and recovery plan coordinator for the Lake Erie water snake, and Lindsey Korfel, a student at Wittenberg University. Their research study was conducted during summer 2011 at Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory located on Lake Erie.
A tool beyond a traditional radio transmitter
The traditional manner for tracking snakes' movements is primarily with a radio transmitter. In other words, a researcher would attach a location transmitter to a ground snake and then hope he or she could then stay or get within range over a period of time to visually determine its habits.
What Flick, Stanford and Korfel did was to catch two female Lake Erie water snakes (LEWS) and arrange for the implantation of LATs. Importantly, the LATs record and store data on the snakes over time, such that it's not necessary for a researcher to be within visual range of t
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