Project Report

The focus of my research was to examine if morphology of arboreal snakes (i.e., snakes that live in trees) living within the same area can be used as a means of understanding how snakes live and where they live. For example, wings function to allow animals to fly. Furthermore, species that are more similar are likely to lead similar lifestyles, which may lead them to compete for resources. Species can be similar in morphology due to being closely related or by convergence where they evolve similarities due to living in similar environments or using similar resources such as food. In order to coexist within the same environment, snakes with similar morphology and lifestyles must partition resources. My interest is in seeing if snakes partition where they live (habitat use) based on morphology. I specifically wanted to address if distantly related taxa show convergence in morphology and if closely related species limit niche overlap by differing in resource use. I carried out this project in the lowland rainforests of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore which is home to 12 arboreal snake species. I also collected data on any nonarboreal snakes I encountered so that I can examine differences between arboreal and nonarboreal snakes. I collected snakes by walking through the forest during the day and at night using a flashlight. To investigate differences in morphology, I measured 11 morphological characters and seven habitat use variables for each captured snake. During my study I was able to collect morphological data on 60 individuals for 10 species and habitat data on 43 individuals for 8 species. Preliminary data indicates that arboreal and nonarboreal snakes are morphologically different with arboreal snakes having longer tails and being thinner than nonarboreal snakes. Also, arboreal snakes partitioned their habitat with snakes having bigger heads and weighing more were found on vegetation lower to the ground and vegetation that was wider.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Figueroa Alex
New Orleans
United States
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