A recent article in the Wildlife Society’s online Wildlife News highlights a new USGS WERC publication on the threatened giant gartersnake and its reliance on rice agriculture in California’s Sacramento Valley. The giant gartersnake has lost much of its historical wetland habitat, but flooded rice fields have served as a substitute habitat in the Central Valley. Dr. Brian Halstead and other WERC researchers examined how the snakes used rice fields and adjacent habitats and whether rice fields affected survival by attaching radio transmitters to 58 snakes. They found that the snakes used canals adjacent to rice fields more than the fields themselves, but that the presence of nearby rice fields improved survival. The new study illustrates how USGS science can inform decision making for both land and species management.
Read more about USGS WERC’s giant gartersnake and other reptile and amphibian research projects.