Meagan Owens | Gartersnake Research

Meagan Owens Shares Details on Her Recent Snake Research

Friday, March 24th, 2023

The northern Mexican gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops) is a threatened species that is found in riparian areas in Arizona and New Mexico. The species is threatened due to factors that include habitat loss and predation. The goal of my work was to see if predation on the northern Mexican gartersnake could be detected using fecal DNA from nonnative sportfish and to see if we could detect the presence of the snake using environmental DNA (eDNA). We extracted DNA from water and sportfish fecal samples obtained from Lake Roosevelt and its Tonto Creek Arm. Samples were analyzed with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).

We found that the northern Mexican gartersnake is in fact being preyed upon by nonnative sportfish, specifically largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides); three of 100 meals contained the gartersnake.  The species was not detected through eDNA, suggesting that this method requires further optimization.

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