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Comparisons of behavioural thermal regulation of the south west carpet python (Morelia spilota imbricata) in different habitats: are foxes an influence?

Bryant, G.L., Fleming, P. and Warren, K. (2007) Comparisons of behavioural thermal regulation of the south west carpet python (Morelia spilota imbricata) in different habitats: are foxes an influence? In: 33rd meeting of the Australian Society of Herpetologists, 4 - 7 December, Albany, Western Australia.

Abstract

The south west carpet python (Morelia spilota imbricata) has declined across much of its former range, primarily due to habitat clearance and land degradation, but potentially due to competition with introduced predators as well. Currently it is classified as threatened and a "specially-protected taxon" under state legislation. The introduced fox is a top order predator and is thought to compete with carpet pythons both in terms of sharing a similar food niche and direct predation. There is a continued baiting regime using 1080 poison baits to control for the introduced red fox across particular areas of Western Australia which may release pythons from competitive interactions. The aim of this study was to determine if thermoregulatory behaviour of pythons differs between baited and unbaited sites as well as coastal and higher altitude sites. In total, 34 pythons were radio-tracked (with temperature sensitive radiotransmitters) on a weekly basis. Pythons were tracked in both coastal woodland habitat: Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park (baited) and Yalgorup National Park (unbaited); and in the northern jarrah forest (baited). Body temperature, microhabitat selection, body posture and the percent of the python's body in the sun were compared between the three study sites. This paper will describe the differences in the python's behavioural thermal regulation and the potential influence of fox presence or absence in varying habitats.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/10231
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