Effects of seasonal variation in prey abundance on field metabolism, water flux, and activity of a tropical ambush foraging snake

Keith Christian, Jonathan K. Webb, Timothy Schultz, Brian Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The responses of animals to seasonal food shortages can have important consequences for population dynamics and the structure and function of food webs. We investigated how an ambush foraging snake, the northern death adder Acanthophis praelongus, responds to seasonal fluctuations in prey availability in its tropical environment. In the dry season, field metabolic rates and water flux, as measured by doubly labeled water, were significantly lower than in the wet season. Unlike some other reptiles of the wet-dry tropics, death adders showed no seasonal difference in their resting metabolism. About 94% of the decrease in energy expended in the dry season was due to a decrease in activity and digestion, with lower body temperatures accounting for the remainder. In the dry season, death adders were less active and moved shorter distances between foraging sites than in the wet season. Analysis of energy expenditure suggested that adders fed no more than every 2-3 wk in the dry season but fed more frequently during the wet season. Unlike many lizards that cease feeding during the dry season, death adders remain active and attempt to maximize their energy intake year-round.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-533
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume80
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

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