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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 

Monday, January 28 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
(SYMPOSIA-02) Validating a Habitat Suitability Index Model for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake in Southern Michigan

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AUTHORS: Stephanie A. Shaffer, Michigan State University; Henry Campa, III, Michigan State University; Daniel Kennedy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Gary Roloff, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: The eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) is a federally threatened species ranging throughout the Great Lakes region. Conservation concerns for the species include declining availability of suitable areas due to habitat degradation and fragmentation. Our goal was to quantify habitat suitability for massasaugas using the Bailey (2010) habitat suitability index (HSI) model and validate this model throughout southern Michigan at 27 20-ha study sites. Sites were selected based on historical or current presence of massasaugas. Following methods described in the HSI model, in 2015 and 2016 we measured vegetation characteristics at 10 - 12 randomly selected locations within each site. As described by the HSI model, we quantified % live herbaceous cover (optimal suitability 60-100%), % dead herbaceous cover (51.5-96%), stem density of trees and shrubs > 3 m (0-58 per ha), basal area of trees and shrubs > 3 m (0-12.1 m2/ha), % area of early deciduous upland (0-57%), and % area of early deciduous wetland (23-73%). To validate the model, we used a resource selection probability function to identify disproportionate use by massasaugas of microhabitat structures defined as important for massasaugas by the HSI model (i.e., % live and dead herbaceous cover, number and average DBH of stems). Based on HSI modeling, habitat suitability rankings for massasauga locations compared to random locations throughout the study sites corroborated structures defined as “optimal” for the species by the HSI model. The resource selection probability function illustrated a positive relationship between massasauga use and the amount of live and dead herbaceous cover, and a negative relationship between use and the number and average DBH of woody stems. Our validation of the Bailey (2010) HSI model indicates that this habitat model is applicable when defining massasauga habitat throughout habitats of varying quality within Southern Michigan.

Monday January 28, 2019 2:00pm - 2:20pm
HOPE BALLROOM B

Attendees (23)