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Poster presented at the 2023 SWOSU Research and Scholarly Activity fair.

Pictured here is student Annabelle Hawkins

Aposematic signaling in animals has been a sector of interest to biologists for many years. An aposematic signal is a signal that an animal will give off to dissuade predators from attacking. This signal is often communicated in the form of bright coloring or patterns. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is an animal that has two modes of aposematic signaling. The first mode is the well documented auditory aposematic signal the rattling of the tail. The second mode of signaling by the rattlesnake is the diamond pattern on its back. In this study we sought to observe how the diamond pattern on the snake affects its predation. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake was chosen for its definitive marking and regional accuracy. To investigate snake predation, models of snakes will be made from clay. The clay models will be the same size but the size of the diamonds in the pattern on the back will vary in size. The models will be placed in the wilderness for a single month and collected. During the experiment the models will be placed onto white backgrounds to remove the natural cryptic effect of the pattern. After collection, the damage on the models will be recorded as predation. For this experiment we hypothesize that the diamond pattern being larger will act as a stronger warning signal to predators. For our results we expect higher predation on snake models with smaller diamonds in their patterns and lower predation on snake models with larger diamonds in their patterns.


SWOSU Research, Research Fair, Herpetology, Rattlesnake, Diamond Back