Advisors: Dr. Michael Eichholz
Prescribed burns are an effective management strategy for grassland vegetation restoration. This controlled disturbance helps eliminate woody vegetation encroachment that degrade grassland habitat when left unattended. Additionally, prescribed burns have been documented to support the imperiled North American grassland birds. However, despite these successes, very little is known about the implications prescribed burns might have on grassland snakes.
To better understand this knowledge gap, Cullen will be studying grassland snake movement (American racer [ Coluber constrictor] radio telemetry), community assemblages (coverboards), habitat use (telemetry/coverboards/vegetation surveys) and predator/prey biodiversity (small mammal Sherman traps/meso-predator camera traps/grassland bird nesting videos) in non-burned and recently burned tall grass prairies in Southern Illinois. This data will be useful for both the ecological understanding and applied conservation for grassland snakes, birds, and other associated biota.