Bold Experiment to Detect the Rarest Snake in the US
Using a new technique to find this cryptic species.
The Louisiana Pine snake has a very limited range in East Texas and Western Louisiana and we have reason to believe it could be the most rare snake in the United States. Since it spends most of its time underground in pocket gopher burrows, it can be extremely cryptic and hard to find.
We’ve already seen success with captive breeding and reintroduction efforts, but to ensure long-term success, we need more information on the Louisiana Pine snake’s behavior, habitat, and the long-term effectiveness of reintroduction efforts.
ARC is working with the US Forest Service in a bold experiment to enhance detection using environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques. This lets us monitor the Louisiana Pinesnake without collecting the snakes or introducing additional stress.
First, we will test the techniques on captive populations and known occupied field sites. If it works under these controlled circumstances (and we think it will!), we will launch a widespread, all-hands-on-deck field deployment.
By focusing on soil samples collected in favorable habitats, we hope to enhance detection that will help us understand population density, distribution, and status. From there, we can adjust conservation actions to be as efficient and effective as possible.
If you want to be a part of this new project, please make a donation to ARC today.