Composition and natural history of a Cerrado snake assemblage at Itirapina, São Paulo state, southeastern Brazil


  • Ricardo Jannini Sawaya Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Instituto de Biologia, Departamento de Zoologia e Museu de História
  • Otavio Augusto Vuolo Marques Instituto Butantan, Laboratório Especial de Ecologia e Evolução
  • Marcio Martins Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Ecologia


biodiversity, natural history, Squamata, Serpentes, Cerrado, Itirapina, São Paulo, Brazil


Neotropical snake assemblages present high species richness and complex structures. The Cerrado is the second largest biome in Brazil, and was included among the 25 World's biodiversity hotspots. In southeastern Brazil, the remnant Cerrado areas have suffered intense destruction, and presently less than 2% of Cerrado natural vegetation remain in São Paulo state. Virtually no detailed study on Cerrado snakes was carried out in this region. The Itirapina region has one of the last well preserved remnants of open cerrado in São Paulo state. Our purpose in this work was the study of natural history and composition of the Cerrado snakes of Itirapina region. We performed an extensive field sampling combining six sampling methods in Estação Ecológica de Itirapina and disturbed Cerrado areas in its surroundings (municipalities of Itirapina and Brotas), during 101 trips throughout 43 months, between September 1998 and March 2002, corresponding to 446 days of field sampling. We also collected additional data from museum specimens housed in scientific collections. We present data on size, general abundance, habitat and macrohabitat use, daily and seasonal activity, feeding, reproduction, and defense. We also compared the Itirapina snake assemblage with nine snake assemblages of Brazil, from Amazonia, Atlantic Forest, Cerrado, and other open habitats. We recorded a total of 36 snake species among 755 individuals found in the field and six records from scientific collections and literature, belonging to 25 genera and five families. The snake assemblage comparisons indicate that the Cerrado has its own identity regarding the snake composition. Although small (about 2,300 ha), the Estação Ecológica de Itirapina encompasses well preserved and representative Cerrado physiognomic forms, which harbors a rich and typical Cerrado snake fauna. The occurrence of some species only inside the reserve also indicates that the Estação Ecológica de Itirapina is of fundamental importance to the maintenance of Cerrado biodiversity.




How to Cite

Sawaya, R. J., Marques, O. A. V., & Martins, M. (2008). Composition and natural history of a Cerrado snake assemblage at Itirapina, São Paulo state, southeastern Brazil. Biota Neotropica, 8(2). Retrieved from //




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