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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi there,

my name is Beth Silvester and I am a second year Zoology with Conservation student at Bangor University. For my third year project, I am collecting data on 'Adaptive colouration in snakes'. I will be setting up plastercine models of adders of varying sizes, some with colour pattern, some without to investigate the significance of adder colouration. The thing is, I need to place the models in a 'snake-type' habitat and visit the models every few weeks to check for signs of predation. I will be carrying out the work over the summer, when I will be at my home in Milton Keynes. I was hoping that someone on this site could share their knowledge with me and suggest suitable places for me to place my models?? I have my own transport so I dont mind travelling within, say, a 15 mile radius of MK (maybe further if there was some good habitat).

I understand that many people dont like to tell of their best local places to spot the adders but I must stress that I don't intend to disturb the animals. In fact I don't even intend to come into contact with any real snakes (although if I did spot one I would over the moon - I've never actually seen a snake in the wild and have always wanted too!!). If you could give me any help or advice I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Beth.
 

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I can't help you as i'm not local to you but I do have a few questions if you don't mind, this sounds interesting.

Generally speaking and not including the natural melanistic adders the colour in adders is related to sex, there isn't normally that much of a variation in colour and pattern in adder populations in the UK. Do you have an initial suspicion or hypothesis you are testing? What do you expect to find?

interestignly in other parts of the world where vipera berus is to be found there are very specific changes in colouration, some populations of adder in colder climates (yes folks, they manage in countries far colder than ours!) are almost exclusively melanistic like this fine chap



The current theory being that as black absorbs heat better melanistic individuals get warmer, stay warmer and as a result are more sucessful hunters and eaters and therefore the 'favorites' come breeding season.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
cheers for your interest :)

the idea behind the study is to try and conclude why they are coloured in the way that they are, cos surely there must be an evolutionary reason why adders have taken the colour pattern that they have. i am trying to find out how their colouration pattern affects their predation. why arent they just a single block colour? why arent they bright pink with green spots etc etc. are they patterned in the way that they are to break up colour and therefore be camouflaged (i.e. for a cryptic reason) or are they patterned to be a warning to predators (i.e for aposematism)?? thats why im testing patterned vs non patterned. im not actually testing colour differences if that makes sense??
 

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aah I see, so its the pattern on the back rather than their base colouration you are examining. That makes more sense thank you :)

It certainly sounds interesting.

If you do want to encounter an actual adder then it shouldn't be too hard once you've tracked down some places local to you that they frequent. Something like a sheet of corrugated metal or any other scrap metal placed in and around likely looking habitats tends to produce adders within a couple of days!

Best of luck with your work and stay away from the sharp end ;)
 

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You're welcome hunny. Oooh i want a melanistic adder! :mf_dribble:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
well obviously im not actually meant to be having contact with the real thing so ive gotta keep it hush hush in front of my lecturer as it may affect the risk assessment slightly. haha. but i would be honoured and amazed to see one whilst doing my study so i might have to hide a little bit of metal somewhere just for my own satisfaction!

cheers for the advice!
 

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Burnham Beeches, in South Bucks, I believe, has a good size population.
indeed, i can vouch for that, having seen 2 individuals there in as many years, though i was not actively looking for them, merely walking the dogs.

in bucks, this is the area i believe to be most populated with adders as it offers an ideal habitat.

very interesting study, i am looking into bangor university at the moment in order to study zoology, and possibly go on to do a masters there.

Alex
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
indeed, i can vouch for that, having seen 2 individuals there in as many years, though i was not actively looking for them, merely walking the dogs.

in bucks, this is the area i believe to be most populated with adders as it offers an ideal habitat.

very interesting study, i am looking into bangor university at the moment in order to study zoology, and possibly go on to do a masters there.

Alex
you should definately consider bangor. have you been here to see the uni?? i fell in love with the place at an instant. if you want to study zoology then you cant get a better location! i looked a big cities like liverpool and then thought it would be an odd choice to choose a big city for that kind of subject. we are constantly going on field trips to fantastic places. wouldnt change it for the world. i did straight zoology last year but switched to zoo/conservation for my second year. i prefer it cos its less molecular stuff and more the whole animal and habitats and obviously conservation. we get waaay more field trips too and in 2nd year zoo/con get to go to gambia!! third year zoo/zoo con get to go to tenerife to catch lizards (amongst other things) and theres a whole module on herpetology in 3rd year. have i bigged up bangor enough yet?? beaches, mountains, sea zoo, colwyn bay zoo, chester zoo, uni museum, great pubs. love this place!!
 
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