2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Modeling Optimal Foraging in a Generalist Snake Predator, Nerodia sipedon
Boryana S. Koseva* and Amanda F. Tougas
Dr. Chad Montgomery and Dr. Phil Ryan, Faculty Mentors

Optimal foraging theory predicts a snake will forage on prey that maximizes net energy gain. Digestive efficiency, the proportion of energy ingested that is absorbed through the gut wall, is an important component in determining total energy budget of an organism because not all energy ingested is available to the organism to do work. We determined the effect of prey type, prey mass, and snake body mass on the digestive efficiency of the Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) and modeled its foraging behavior using agent based modeling. The model simulates the lives of water snakes by accounting for foraging, digestion, metabolism, energy allocation, growth, reproduction, and death. A sensitivity analysis was conducted on the model to determine which parameters significantly affect the output. Combinations of parameters for the analysis were generated using Latin hypercube sampling, while analysis was performed using partial rank correlation coefficients.

Keywords: digetive efficiency, Nerodia sipedon , optimal foraging, agent based modeling, simulation

Topic(s):Mathematical Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 1-3
Location: MG 1098
Time: 8:30

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