Non-native watersnakes have potential to spread throughout West
Watersnakes, commonly seen in the lakes, rivers and streams of the eastern United States, are invading California waterways and may pose a threat to native and endangered species in the state, according to a University of California, Davis, study.
Southern watersnakes commonly eat mole salamanders, a group that includes two endangered species in California. A UC Davis study finds that the non-native snakes are invading California waters, posing a threat to native fish, amphibians and reptiles.
Credit: J.D. Willson/University of Arkansas
While scientists do not know exactly how many watersnakes are in California, roughly 300 individuals of two different species –the common watersnake and the southern watersnake -- have been found in the Sacramento area (Roseville and Folsom), and at least 150 were seen in Long Beach. Researchers suspect the nonvenomous snakes most likely were introduced by people "setting free" their pet snakes.
"The issue is not yet out of control," said lead author Jonathan Rose, a doctoral candidate in the UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology. "However, we recommend that action be taken now to control emergent populations of these non-native snakes while they remain somewhat restricted in California. Waiting until they become entrenched could cost more ecologically and economically."
The study, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, identified areas that would be climatically suitable for the watersnakes should their populations continue to increase. It found that potential distributions of watersnakes overlap with the giant gartersnake and the California tiger salamander -- both on the federal list of threatened species -- as well as the foothill yellow-legged frog, an amphibian of conservation concern. These native species can become prey or a competing species for the invasive watersnakes.
The common watersnake not only has the potential to spread through Central California, but also farther north to Oregon's Willamette Valley and to central Washington. The southern watersnake has a more restricted climatic niche but may spread through the Central Valley, where native fish and amphibians have already suffered significant declines. The two watersnake species also frequently interbreed, which could increase their invasiveness by producing hybrid genotypes able to tolerate a broader range of climates.
"Watersnakes are not picky eaters," said co-author Brian Todd, a conservation biologist in the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. "With their predatory nature and generalist diets, our already imperiled native fish, amphibians and reptiles have much to lose should introduced watersnakes become more widespread."
Nearly half of California's amphibians are considered Species of Special Concern or are listed under the state or federal Endangered Species Act, and more than 80 percent of the state's inland fishes are of conservation concern.
Sightings of introduced watersnakes can be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full study at http://bit.ly/1lTT0lg.
Jonathan Rose | Eurek Alert!
Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University
From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
13.12.2018 | Life Sciences
13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences