Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Invasive watersnakes introduced to California may pose risk to native species

Date:
June 25, 2014
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
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 study. 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.

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

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.

Related Articles


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 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan P. Rose, Brian D. Todd. Projecting Invasion Risk of Non-Native Watersnakes (Nerodia fasciata and Nerodia sipedon) in the Western United States. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (6): e100277 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100277

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Invasive watersnakes introduced to California may pose risk to native species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625201932.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2014, June 25). Invasive watersnakes introduced to California may pose risk to native species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625201932.htm
University of California - Davis. "Invasive watersnakes introduced to California may pose risk to native species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625201932.htm (accessed December 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nevada Farmer Uses Goats to 'recycle' Christmas Trees

Nevada Farmer Uses Goats to 'recycle' Christmas Trees

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 27, 2014) A Nevada goat farmer partners up with a local fire department to 'recycle' discarded Christmas trees. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Christmas Trees And Bugs Are Seemingly Symbiotic

Christmas Trees And Bugs Are Seemingly Symbiotic

Newsy (Dec. 24, 2014) The National Christmas Tree Association says bugs in trees are a relatively small problem, but recommends giving your tree a good shake anyway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ukrainian Coal Miners Work to Stave Off Electricity Shortage

Ukrainian Coal Miners Work to Stave Off Electricity Shortage

AFP (Dec. 24, 2014) Coal miners in the separatist east of Ukraine work to ensure there won't be electricity shortages during the coldest months of winter, but the country has declared a state of emergency in its electricity market. Duration: 00:59 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguay Chooses 'smart' Farming Methods for Ambitious Goals

Uruguay Chooses 'smart' Farming Methods for Ambitious Goals

AFP (Dec. 24, 2014) Using GM crops, genetically chosen cows, and technology like satellites and drones, Uruguay - with a population of just 3 million people - is aiming to produce enough food to feed 50 million. Duration: 03:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins