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Gila Monsters
Rattlesnakes
Pythons
Field Site

Team DeNardo

Melissa Amarello

 

Education
B.S. with Honors. Wildlife, Watershed, and Rangeland Resources. 2005. University of Arizona. Thesis: Antipredator Behavior of Mexican Lance-headed Rattlesnakes

 

Research Interests

Sociogenetics and behavior of reptiles, especially snakes.

 

Thesis Work

Are rattlesnake groups random associations of individuals attracted to a common resource (aggregations) or true societies of individuals that can recognize each other, have social bonds, and may exhibit cooperation? I am using social network analysis to describe the structure of an Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus) population and determine whether there is active companionship and avoidance behavior. Rattlesnakes likely evolved from a non-social ancestor, providing an ideal opportunity to examine ecological correlates of sociality that evolved independently of previously studied systems.

5 May 2011: Arizona black rattlesnakes emerging and basking together just outside their den.

 

Past Research

While an undergraduate at the University of Arizona (UA) I worked on a variety of projects on the ecology and conservation of Arizona reptiles including an independent project on the foraging ecology of rock rattlesnakes (Crotalus lepidus) and Sonoran mountain kingsnakes (Lampropeltis pyromelana). Under the guidance of Drs. Kevin Bonine (UA) and David Lazcano (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León), I investigated the effects of temperature, age, sex, and reproductive condition on antipredator behavior of Mexican lance-headed rattlesnakes (Crotalus polystictus) for my undergraduate honors thesis. Post-baccalaureate, I initiated a project with USGS to monitor the effects of fire on San Francisco gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) and sympatric reptiles on the central California coast.

 

Publications

 

Halstead, B.J., G.D. Wylie, M. Amarello, J.J. Smith, M.E. Thompson, E.J. Routman, and M.L. Casazza. 2011. Demography of the San Francisco Gartersnake in Coastal San Mateo County, California. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 2: 41-48.

 

Wylie, G.D., J.J. Smith, M. Amarello, and M.L. Casazza. 2011. A taping method for external transmitter attachment on aquatic snakes. Herpetological Review 42: 187-191.

 

Amarello, M., E.M. Nowak, E.N. Taylor, G.W. Schuett, R.A. Repp, P.C. Rosen, and D.L. Hardy. 2010. Potential environmental influences on variation in body size and sexual size dimorphism among Arizona populations of the western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).  Journal of Arid Environments 74: 1443-1449.

 

Smith, J.J, M. Amarello, and M. Goode. 2010. Seasonal growth of free-ranging Gila monsters (Heloderma suspectum) in a southern Arizona population. Journal of Herpetology 44: 484-488.

 

Amarello, M., K. Bonine, and D. Lazcano. 2008. Factors influencing the antipredator behavior of Mexican lance-headed rattlesnakes (Crotalus polystictus) toward humans. Pp. 229-234 in W.K. Hayes, K.R.Beaman, M.D. Cardwell, and S.P. Bush (eds.), The Biology of Rattlesnakes. Loma Linda University Press, Loma Linda, CA.

 

Goode, M., J.J. Smith, and M. Amarello. 2008. Seasonal and annual variation in home range and movements of tiger rattlesnakes (Crotalus tigris) in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Pp. 327-334 in W.K. Hayes, K.R. Beaman, M.D. Cardwell, and S.P. Bush (eds.), The Biology of Rattlesnakes. Loma Linda University Press, Loma Linda, CA.

 

Smith, J.J., M. Goode, and M. Amarello. 2008. Changes in structure and composition of Sonoran Desert reptile communities associated with golf courses. Pp. 311-320 in J.C. Mitchell, R.E. Jung Brown, and B. Bartholomew (eds.), Urban Herpetology. Herpetological Conservation Vol. 3, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Salt Lake City, UT.

 

Amarello, M. and M. Goode. 2003. Crotalus tigris (Tiger Rattlesnake) diet. Herpetological Review 35(2): 177.

 

Amarello, M. and M. Goode. 2003. Trimorphodon biscutatus (Western Lyresnake) predation. Herpetological Review 35(2): 182.

 

Amarello, M., K. Setser, and M. Goode. 2003. Masticophis flagellum (Coachwhip) diet. Herpetological Review 35(2): 178.

 

Selected Presentations

 

Amarello, M. 2012. Rattlesnake research at Muleshoe Ranch. The Sierra Club Muleshoe Ranch Service Trip. Willcox, AZ.

 

Amarello, M. 2011. The secret lives of Arizona snakes. National Geographic Society / National Park Service Saguaro BioBlitz Biodiversity Festival. Tucson, AZ.

 

Amarello, M., J.J. Smith, and J. Slone. 2011. Family Values: Rattlesnake parental care is more than just attendance. Behavior 2011. Bloomington, Indiana.

Press coverage: Good Mother Rattlesnake (in Meeting Notes, Science News)

 

Amarello, M. and D.F. DeNardo. 2011. SnakeBook: An Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus cerberus) social network. Current Research on Herpetofauna of the Sonoran Desert V. Tucson, Arizona.

 

Amarello, M., J.J. Smith, and J. Slone. 2011. Family Values: Rattlesnake parental care is more than just attendance. Biology of the Rattlesnakes Symposium. Tucson, Arizona.

Press coverage: No need to be rattled; like you, this fella's not looking for a fight (Arizona Daily Star)

 

Amarello, M. and J.J. Smith. 2009. A snake of a different color: physiological color change in Arizona black rattlesnakes. Snake Ecology Group. Donnelly, Idaho. (poster)

 

Amarello, M., E.M. Nowak, E.N. Taylor, G.W. Schuett, R.A. Repp, P.C. Rosen, and D.L. Hardy. 2009. Body size variation among Arizona populations of the western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is predicted by GIS-based estimates of isothermality and precipitation. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Bockoven, A., M. Amarello, and M.W. Sears. 2009. Implications of tradeoffs between crypsis and thermoregulation for the evolution of animal coloration. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Boston, Massachusetts. (poster)

 

Amarello, M. and J.J. Smith. 2008. Patterns of growth and activity in young Gila monsters (Heloderma suspectum). Current Research on Herpetofauna of the Sonoran Desert IV. Tucson, Arizona. (poster)

 

Amarello, M., D. Lazcano, and K.E. Bonine. 2006. Conducta defensiva de la cascabel hocico de puerco (Crotalus polystictus). Ninth Reunión Nacional de Herpetología México. Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. (poster)

 

Amarello, M., J.J. Smith, and M. Goode. 2006. Can golf courses sustain populations of Sonoran desert reptiles and amphibians? Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. New Orleans, Louisiana. (invited)

 

Amarello, M., M. Goode, A. Holycross, D. Prival, H.K. McCrystal, and D.F. Retes. 2004. Geographic variation in Crotalus lepidus klauberi (banded rock rattlesnakes). Joint Meetings of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Norman, OK.

 

Email: amarello[at]asu.edu

Website: www.socialsnakes.org

 


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