PS 83-104 - Relationships among dietary richness, geographic range and morphology in snakes

Friday, August 12, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Paul M. Hampton, Biology, Carroll University, Waukesha, WI

Dietary breadth in vertebrates is often associated with aspects of macroecology including body size and geographic range. While snakes have received considerable attention regarding feeding performance and trophic morphology, broad scale aspects of snake foraging ecology are relatively rare. I calculated phylogenetic and conventional regressions among diet diversity, area of geographic range, maximum body size, and relative gape size using up to 64 snake species from several families.


A positive relationship was observed between maximum body size and geographic range. A positive association was also shown between both maximum body size and range size with prey diversity; however relative gape size was not correlated with diet diversity. Given the available models, delta AICc values calculated using Akaike’s Information Criterion suggests that geographic range is the best indicator of diet diversity, followed by a model including range and maximum body size. One explanation for these results is that compared to relatively small species, larger species have a larger geographical range throughout which a high diversity of prey is encountered.

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