Living in a mosaic of Brazilian Atlantic Forest and plantations: spatial ecology of five bushmaster Lachesis muta (Viperidae Crotalinae)
This is the first multiple months study on home range and habitat use by a small group of bushmaster (Lachesis spp.). Five snakes (natives and translocated) were intensively radio tracked in a mosaic of plantations and small fragments of Atlantic Forest in the Reserva Ecologica Michelin in Bahia, Brazil. The average home range was 9.47 ha (MCP 95%) and 44.11 (Kernel 95%) for bushmasters tracked for more than 6 months. The macrohabitats used were primarily composed of disturbed primary (partially logged) and secondary (originally cleared) forests, but also of rubber tree plantations with a dense understory vegetation. Activity centres were closer to the forest edge (~ 22 m) than the core of the small forest fragments. The snakes mainly occupied wooded microhabitats with complex vegetation structures, around 50% under- and mid-story cover. Nocturnal ambush differed from diurnal resting microhabitats on the surface mainly by being significantly closer to mammal trails and a more open understory space. While mammal burrows and refuges under roots and rocks have been used, diurnal resting was primarily on the forest floor (75%). Translocation from sites > 20 km outside the study site has produced little evidence of negative effect, as all individuals grew impressively, continued an apparently normal life and established a home range similar to native bushmasters.