#SciFri: Fieldwork has begun!

Hey everyone! If you’ve read my recent #StevesLibrary post then you will know that recently I have been SUPER BUSY! I will be busy over the next few months surveying barred grass snakes (Natrix helvetica) as part of the fieldwork for my PhD. I’m carrying out a population level assessment at a large population in Norfolk looking at the demographics, transience and survivability. All of this requires some very intensive monitoring which is what has been keeping me busy for the past couple of weeks or so.

One of the larger grass snakes I have come across on my surveys so far

The causative agent of snakes fungal disease (Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola) has previously been confirmed in the population. At this present moment in time, we have no idea what it’s consequence is at either the individual level or population level. As part of my surveys, I will be catching snakes (like the one above), taking some biometric data and swabbing them if appropriate. These swabs will then be tested in the lab at a later date in order to determine which snakes are infected or not and try to tie the clinical signs observed in the snakes to snake fungal disease. As you may have seen from my previous blog on my PhD research, I’m using belly patterns to recognise individuals through space and time.

If you’d like to follow the action, I’ll be posting on Twitter and Instagram quite regularly using the hashtag #CranwichSnakes. If you’ve got any questions about the project or my research feel free to comment below or find me on my socials. I’m looking forward to sharing more updates with you all as I progress along this journey!

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