The Jamaican Boa Chilabothrus subflavus is a Jamaican-protected species whose numbers and distribution have substantially declined during the last century. Although the true conservation status of the Jamaican Boa is unknown, it is currently listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as well as an Endangered Foreign species by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. In order to implement effective management strategies, I developed the most up-to-date distributional map for the Jamaican Boa as well as conducted a habitat availability and utilization analysis for this species. My analysis showed that Jamaican Boas still occur throughout Jamaica (total distribution 1000.6 km2), but occur in pockets of suitable habitat, of which boas utilized closed-broadleaved forest in greater proportion (37.7%) than all other available habitat types (21 habitat as classified by the Jamaican Forestry Department). As increased anthropogenic changes continue to negatively impact Jamaican Boa populations, the National Environment and Planning Agency of Jamaica recommends translocation as a conservation strategy to protect this species. In connection with Windsor Research Centre, I conducted a short-distance translocation (SDT) of 7 resident female Jamaican Boas in Cockpit Country Conservation Area (CCCA) from December 2010 to November 2012 to assess the effects of SDT on the survivability, home range size and microhabitat use of translocated individuals. A subset of 7 resident Jamaican Boas radiotracked in CCCA from November 2008 to June 2009 was used for comparison to my SDT snake data. No mortalities or significant differences in home range size at the 50 and 95% Minimum Convex Polygon or 50 and 95% Adaptive Kernel were recorded for SDT as compared to resident female Jamaica Boas in CCCA, although 2 SDT boas did return to their previous home range. Visual detectability was higher for resident as compared to SDT snakes but no significant difference was detected between these two groups use of arboreal and terrestrial locations as both were found to utilize arboreal locations in greater proportion. Both resident and SDT boas were found in areas characterized by tall, canopy layer trees with vines and epiphytes, but SDT boas utilized larger trees with greater epiphyte densities than resident snakes, which suggest that translocated, female Jamaican Boas alter their foraging strategies to survive in unfamiliar areas. My results showed that short-distance translocation has potential as a management strategy for the conservation of Jamaican Boa populations in CCCA, which can aid in the recovery of this vulnerable species in Jamaica.
August 2, 2016
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