Abundance of sea kraits correlates with precipitation

Harvey B. Lillywhite, Ming Chung Tu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that sea kraits (Laticauda spp.) - amphibious sea snakes - dehydrate without a source of fresh water, drink only fresh water or very dilute brackish water, and have a spatial distribution of abundance that correlates with freshwater sites in Taiwan. The spatial distribution correlates with sites where there is a source of fresh water in addition to local precipitation. Here we report six years of longitudinal data on the abundance of sea kraits related to precipitation at sites where these snakes are normally abundant in the coastal waters of Lanyu (Orchid Island), Taiwan. The number of observed sea kraits varies from year-to-year and correlates positively with previous 6-mo cumulative rainfall, which serves as an inverse index of drought. Grouped data for snake counts indicate that mean abundance in wet years is nearly 3-fold greater than in dry years, and this difference is significant. These data corroborate previous findings and suggest that freshwater dependence influences the abundance or activity of sea kraits on both spatial and temporal scales. The increasing evidence for freshwater dependence in these and other marine species have important implications for the possible impact of climate change on sea snake distributions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28556
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Dec 14

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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