June 8, 2012
Public Affairs Office
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — ERDC Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) Wildlife Biologist Dr. Jinelle Sperry, also an adjunct assistant professor with the College of ACES's Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, is the lead author on an article published in the June issue of the Journal of Zoology.
The article, "Individual and Sex-Based Differences in Behavior and Ecology of Rat Snakes in Winter," summarizes herpetological research conducted at Fort Hood, Texas.
Rat snakes are medium to large constrictors that can be found through a great portion of the Northern Hemisphere and they feed primarily on rodents and birds.
The primary objective of the research was to examine winter ecology of rat snakes to better understand the mechanisms behind winter activity and to make predictions on the effects of climate warming. The Texas Rat Snake is the primary predator of two endangered bird species that breed on Fort Hood and are of concern for Fort Hood natural resources management.
This article postulates that a climate-induced expansion of the snake active season would have negative implications for early spring breeding birds through increased predation risk.
Read the article in the Journal of Zoology.