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Temporal and spatial segregation in an assemblage of Afrotropical subterranean snakes

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Niche partititioning patterns have not been studied so far in burrowing tropical snakes of the families Typhlopidae and Leptotyphlopidae. In this study, we analyze temporal (= monthly activity) and spatial (= habitat use) niche dimensions in three species of burrowing snakes from the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Null model analyses, using two randomization algorithms and 30 000 Monte Carlo permutations, showed that there was random resource partitioning patterns as for the spatial niche dimension. One species (Rhinotyphlops punctatus) clearly dominated in the sample, and appeared to be more habitat generalist than the others. All three species showed an uneven monthly activity, with peaks occurring by wet season, and statistically significant positive correlations between mean monthly rainfall and number of captured snakes. However, there were significantly negative correlations between mean monthly temperature and number of captured snakes in two of the three species (Rhinotyphlops congestus; Leptotyphlops cfr. sundewalli).

Affiliations: 1: 3Department of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Uyo, PMB 1017, Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria; 2: 1Niger Delta Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation Unit, Department of Applied and Environmental Biology, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria


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