Meeting Abstract

P1.4  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Reflectance of Snakes of Beaver Island: A Descriptive and Visual Approach SEYMOURE, Brett*; TOOMEY, Matt; CLARK, David; Arizona State University; Arizona State University; Alma College brett.seymoure@gmail.com

Snakes have limited color vision, yet snakes are known for a variety of colors. Signals of snakes, ranging from aposematism to camouflage, are intended for predators or prey with well-developed color vision. During the summer of 2007 on Beaver Island, MI, we collected snakes of five species: Garter Snakes, Ribbon Snakes, Red Belly Snakes, Green Snakes, and Ringneck Snakes. We measured reflectance at different body locations for each species along with background reflectance and ambient light environment, allowing us to compare contrast between species and background. We describe the conspicuousness for each species of snake relative to their background. Further, we utilize known perception models of natural avian, reptilian, and mammalian predators to suggest the perception of conspicuousness for each snake species. We suggest that the high contrast in ventral coloration of Red Belly snakes and Ring Neck snakes may function as a warning signal, while the low contrast dorsal coloration of most species may enhance crypsis. This study engenders a better understanding of the different ecological coloration tactics of snakes and forms a base for behavioral studies to explore each species' coloration.