Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 443–453 | Cite as

Invasive plant management creates ecological traps for snakes

  • Evin T. CarterEmail author
  • Michael J. Ravesi
  • Bryan C. Eads
  • Bruce A. Kingsbury
Original Paper


Exotic plant management often begins only after introduced taxa become widespread and problematic. Control efforts at this stage have a higher potential to lead to unintended outcomes in native systems. We explored the impacts of ongoing invasive plant management on a native ectotherm, the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), in a landscape heavily impacted by multiple nonnative plant species. We found that habitats undergoing invasive plant control are preferred by snakes over other available habitats, but these individuals are at greater risk of injury and mortality owing to policy-driven methods of control. At the same time, we show that management can reverse invader impacts, notably reclaiming thermoregulatory opportunities for ectotherms, thus offering benefits as well as challenges for such animals. This introduces a key dilemma for conservation as invasive plant management can reclaim critical resources while policy-driven control methods can undermine the success of these efforts. We outline several simple and direct solutions that may easily be incorporated into management plans.


Agkistrodon Ectotherm Established invasions Habitat modification Management conflicts Temperature Unexpected consequences 



We thank Mark Jordan, Jordan Marshall, and Dan Simberloff for comments and suggestions, Richard Davis and Darrell Skinner for logistical support and facilities, and Daryl Karns and Hanover College for access to laboratory facilities. We thank Jance Carter, Lindsey Hayter, Andrew Hoffman, Tom Melton, and Dustin Owen for assisting with fieldwork. Research support was provided by the Indiana Academy of Science, Indiana—Purdue University Fort Wayne, and the IPFW Environmental Resources Center. All work was conducted under authorization by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evin T. Carter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael J. Ravesi
    • 2
  • Bryan C. Eads
    • 3
  • Bruce A. Kingsbury
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Environmental DivisionGraylingUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyIndiana – Purdue UniversityFort WayneUSA

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