Feeding ecology of the Terciopelo pit viper snake (Bothrops asper) in Ecuador

Amaru Loaiza-Lange, Diana Székely, Omar Torres-Carvajal, Nicolás Tinoco, David Salazar-Valenzuela, Paul Székely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Thoroughly documenting prey items and diet composition is crucial for understanding a predator’s role in the ecosystem. In gape restricted predators, such as snakes, documenting and analyzing the type and size of the prey is important to interpret their ecological role. We describe the diet patterns of a species of venomous snake, the Terciopelo pit viper (Bothrops asper), from its Ecuadorian populations. Examining the gastrointestinal contents of museum specimens collected over an extensive area of the Pacific lowlands of Ecuador, we encountered 69 identifiable prey items from four major taxonomic groups (amphibians, centipedes, mammals, and reptiles). We evaluated the observed composition of prey to check for differences between sexes and size-classes. To complement our observations of the Terciopelo species complex throughout their distribution, we carried out a systematic literature review. Our data show an ontogenetic shift in diet, with a transition from more diverse diet in juveniles towards a mammal-specialized diet in adults, and distinct proportion of prey taxa between the sexes in the juvenile size class.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPeerJ
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2023 Loaiza-Lange et al.

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