Roadside habitat use by the endemic short-headed gartersnake (Thamnophis brachystoma) in northwestern Pennsylvania, USA

Julie E. Mibroda, Darin J. McNeil, Joseph E. Duchamp, Josiah H. Townsend, Jeffery L. Larkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Short-headed Gartersnake (Thamnophis brachystoma) has one of the most restricted ranges of any snake species in the United States, with approximately 90% of the total distribution within northwestern Pennsylvania, USA. Although recent surveys indicate that the species can be locally abundant, evidence suggests an overall decrease in population size, which is attributed to habitat loss due to succession of previously open-canopied communities. Because of their affinity for open-canopied habitats, areas adjacent to road construction are frequently used by Short-headed Gartersnakes. A better understanding of the habitat requirements of the species is a necessary first step toward the development of species-specific conservation strategies. In 2010, we conducted surveys for Short-headed Gartersnakes and associated habitat sampling at 39 roadside sites in northwestern Pennsylvania. We detected Short-headed Gartersnakes at 18 of 39 sites surveyed. Based on regression analysis, distance to permanent water, canopy cover, and rock cover best predicted species detection. Sites where the species was detected were closer to permanent water sources, had more rock cover, and less canopy cover than sites where it was not detected. Our results suggest that roadside sites with appropriate conditions can provide Short-headed Gartersnake habitat. The use of roadside sites by this species may prove to be logistically and financially appealing for managing habitat and monitoring populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-663
Number of pages9
JournalHerpetological Conservation and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017. Julie E. Mibroda All rights reserved.


  • Canopy cover
  • Conservation
  • Cover rock
  • Disturbance
  • Endemism
  • Logistic regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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