Jun 27, 2014

No room to roam: King Cobras reduce movement in agriculture

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Wilfred NdifonMatt Goode


Studying animal movement provides insights into how animals react to land-use changes, specifically how animals can change their behaviour in agricultural areas. Recent reviews show a tendency for species to reduce movements in response to increased human landscape modification, but the study of movement has not been extensively explored in reptiles. We examined movements of a large reptilian predator, the King Cobra ( Ophiophagus hannah ), in Northeast Thailand. We used a consistent regime of radio-telemetry tracking to document movements across protected forest and adjacent agricultural areas. We then adapted GPS-targeting analytic methods to examine the movement using metrics of site reuse and dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Model derived motion variance. Examination of motion variance demonstrated that King Cobra movements increased in forested areas and tended to decrease in agricultural areas. Our Integrated Step-Selection Functions indicated that when moving in agricultural areas King Cobras restricted their movements, thereby remaining within vegetated semi-natural areas, often located along the banks of irrigation canals. Site reuse metrics of residency time and number of revisits remained unaffected by distance to la...Continue Reading

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