Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
06 May 2007
 | 06 May 2007

Non-random seasonal variation in the structure of a Mediterranean snake community

E. Filippi and L. Luiselli

Abstract. The community structure in relation to habitat type was studied in a Mediterranean community of snakes from Canale Monterano, central Italy. Habitat data for snakes were analysed both overall and divided by season, i.e. spring (April–June) and summer (July–September). Community analyses were performed using null models (RA2 and RA3 algorithms) and Monte Carlo simulations on habitat niche overlap estimates. Null models suggested that the community was assembled non-randomly (according to RA2 but not RA3), indicating that the generalist-specialist nature (the number of resource states, but not necessarily the types) used by each species in the assemblage reduced ecological similarity. Similar results were reached also performing the same null model procedures on the spring datasets, whereas no structure emerged during summer either by RA2 or RA3 algorithms. In general, this study suggests that the community structure of snakes during spring may be shaped by the different eco-physiological needs of the various species (probably, the differential tolerance to cold and the consequent needs of finding suitable hibernacula), whereas the lack of structure during summer may be caused by the between-species similar foraging needs.