Every other year, Team Snake collects gravid (pregnant) female Lake Erie Watersnakes for a reproductive study. Thirty to fifty females are brought into the lab from different islands and sites are set up in tanks to await the arrival of their young. When their babies are born, Team Snake measures, determines sex, records color morphs, and marks all of them. Lake Erie Watersnakes give birth to an average of 26 young, so we have upwards of 1,000 babies to process each year!
What Can We Learn From This Research?
With the data collected from this project, we can start to try to answer and evaluate the following questions:
Which island(s) or sites have females with higher reproductive output?
Are offspring healthier and larger on some islands than others?
Are certain color morphs more prevalent on some islands than others?
Do offspring have a better survival rate on some islands or sites?
These are only a few of the many things that we can start to learn more about with reproductive studies of the Lake Erie Watersnake!