Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Kirsten J. Monsen

Committee Member

Lisa C. Hazard

Committee Member

Scott L. Kight


The Eastern Hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) is a relatively poorly studied species found in the eastern half of the United States from southern New England and Ontario south along the Atlantic coast to Florida and west to Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. In the Northeastern part of their range they are considered to be a species of regional conservation concern by the Northeast Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee. They are protected by conservation measures in the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and are listed as endangered by the state of New Hampshire. The purpose of this study was to examine the genetic diversity of a population of H. platirhinos in Cape Cod, MA, in order to determine whether this population was being impacted genetically by habitat fragmentation. Tissue samples were collected from snakes in conjunction with a radio telemetry study which covered three major towns in the northernmost part of the peninsula of Cape Cod. DNA was obtained from a total of twenty-three snakes and partial sequences of the mitochondrial control region were compared. All sequences were joined in a statistical parsimony network with a 95% confidence connection limit. Five unique haplotypes were distinguished which differed by no more than three base pairs, and there was no correlation between geographic location and haplotype occurrence. These results suggest that this population in Cape Cod may not experience any barriers to gene flow or that barriers may have been recently established. To my knowledge, this is the first genetic analysis of the Eastern Hognose snake.

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