Title

41. Saving the snakes: the occurrence of Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) in northeast Georgia

Faculty Mentor(s)

Jessica Patterson

Campus

Dahlonega

Proposal Type

Poster

Subject Area

Biology

Location

Floor

Start Date

22-3-2019 11:00 AM

End Date

22-3-2019 12:00 PM

Description/Abstract

An emerging threat to local snake species in northeast Georgia is becoming increasingly more severe and fatal to wildlife populations. Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) is caused by a naturally-occurring fungal pathogen, Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, that acts as an opportunistic invader and causes a high mortality rate after exposure. Very little is known about SFD, particularly in the northeast Georgia region, and more research needs to be conducted in the area for conservation efforts. In this study, we survey local snake populations in northeast Georgia to monitor the occurrence of SFD while exploring abiotic factors that may contribute to the spread of the pathogen. Specific sites have been determined for surveying snake populations and data will be collected at each site, such as location (e.g., GPS coordinates, habitat type), a morphological assessment (e.g., species, sex, mass, age) and a health examination (e.g., the presence of lesions, behavior) after the snake is swabbed according to specific protocol. The data will be compared with the southeast Georgia region where SFD has prevailed in order to assess variables that could be used to prevent the future spread of SFD. This investigation will help to gain a deeper understanding of how SFD threatens snake populations in Georgia, and conservation and management plans can be developed accordingly in collaboration with organizations such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Orianne Society.

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Mar 22nd, 11:00 AM Mar 22nd, 12:00 PM

41. Saving the snakes: the occurrence of Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) in northeast Georgia

Floor

An emerging threat to local snake species in northeast Georgia is becoming increasingly more severe and fatal to wildlife populations. Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) is caused by a naturally-occurring fungal pathogen, Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, that acts as an opportunistic invader and causes a high mortality rate after exposure. Very little is known about SFD, particularly in the northeast Georgia region, and more research needs to be conducted in the area for conservation efforts. In this study, we survey local snake populations in northeast Georgia to monitor the occurrence of SFD while exploring abiotic factors that may contribute to the spread of the pathogen. Specific sites have been determined for surveying snake populations and data will be collected at each site, such as location (e.g., GPS coordinates, habitat type), a morphological assessment (e.g., species, sex, mass, age) and a health examination (e.g., the presence of lesions, behavior) after the snake is swabbed according to specific protocol. The data will be compared with the southeast Georgia region where SFD has prevailed in order to assess variables that could be used to prevent the future spread of SFD. This investigation will help to gain a deeper understanding of how SFD threatens snake populations in Georgia, and conservation and management plans can be developed accordingly in collaboration with organizations such as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Orianne Society.