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RE: C. bottae taxonomy - A new wrinkle

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Posted by: CKing at Sat May 17 23:40:03 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by CKing ]  

>>Besides the dwarf form occurring in Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern Counties, I have evidence the dwarf morph also occurs adjacent to Kern County in Ventura County in the Mt. Pinos, Frazier Mt., and Alamo Mt. region just west of I-5 and the grapevine. And the dwarf morph also occurs in southern in Tulare County in the south-central and southeastern parts of the Southern Kern Plateau. No specimens have been collected in the southwestern part of the S. Kern Plateau so it is not known if the dwarf form occurs in that region. Also, no information is at hand to indicate how far north the dwarf form occurs on the Kern Plateau before it intergrades with the large morph.>>

Hi, Richard. Thanks for the reply. I have noticed that L. z. multifasciata is replaced by L. z. multicincta in the Sierra Nevada near Tulare County and the same seems to apply to the small morph/large morph rubber boas in the same area.

>>With respect to Fig. 1 in the mtDNA paper, although the connections between groups and the relative length of arms provide a reasoned sense of relatedness, without knowing precisely the meaning of the numbers attached to the arms at the left, I am not able to make a complete assessment of the results as shown.>>

Those numbers given are statistical support for the particular node in the diagram, in percentages. A number of 100 means it is well supported. 50 means that it is as reliable as flipping a coin.

>>As for your last post of May 15th, when I reviewed Javier's paper, I also noted the disjunct nature of that part of the tree in Fig. 1B that includes specimens #26, 15, 17, 18, and 19. And there are other seemingly anomalous situations that are not explained in the text.>>

It was not explained because to Rodriguez-Robles et al., that part of the cladogram is not anomalous, because they did not know of the existence of small and large morph snakes at the time they published their paper, according to you. It looks anomalous to me because these large morph snakes appeared to have migrated to the north before other populations of large morph Sierra Nevada snakes had split from the Kern County small morph snakes. That to me suggests a possibility that the large morph may have evolved as many as 3 different times in the history of the rubber boa, once in the Northwestern subclade and twice in the Sierra Nevada subclade. This is of course possible, but seemingly less likely than if the large morph snakes of the Sierra Nevada had only evolved from a small morph ancestor only once.

>>There is no defining characters by which dwarf and large morph specimens can be readily discerned one from another on an individual basis. The manner in which I have identified populations as being of the large morph was by finding adult specimens that exceeded the currently known maximums for the dwarf morph.
>>The known approximate maximum lengths of the dwarf morph are about 22 to 22 1/4 inches (558 - 565 mm) for females and 19 1/2 - 19 3/4 inches (494 - 500 mm) for males. So when I find specimens that exceed those lengths, then I have assigned such populations as belonging to the large morph. That dwarf morph specimens may be 'lurking' within large morph population is a possibility but they cannot be detected. Juvenile, subadults and small adults of the large morph for the most part are indistinguishable from members of the dwarf morph of similar size.
>>I have examined sufficient samples from the regions in which specimens 15. 17, 18, 19 and 26 originate to consider all such populations to be of the large morph. I have examined each of those specimens and all but #18 are essentially larger than the largest dwarf morphs. Number 18 from Yuba county has a preserved length of 226 mm and give a 10% adjustment for shrinkage, would be about 291 mm alive. Since large morph specimens occur from the same area, I consider that specimen simply to be a small subadult of the large morph.>>

Thank you for the information. Would loc. #26 be in the range of L. z. multicincta? If so, there is a virtually identical correspondence between the transition from L. z. multifasciata to L. z. multicincta and the transition from small morph to large morph C. bottae in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Here we may see L. z. multifasciata and small morph C. bottae south of an invisible boundary and we then see L. z. multicincta and large morph C. bottae occuring north of this boundary. Perhaps the same set of environmental conditions may be responsible for producing darker L. zonata individuals and larger rubber boas.

>>You mention, "For now, C. bottae taxonomy is even more complicated than I had previously imagined." Just last night I received an email form the individual doing the new mtDNA study. Up until then, despite a much larger sample size and greater geographical representation, I was concerned that nothing new would result from his efforts and that the study would turn out only repeating what Javier had already determined.
>>That now seems to have changed by the extraordinary results that have been obtained. I am not at liberty to mention just what new information has turned up but if it holds up, the complexity will be even greater than what was revealed in Javier's paper.
>>Richard F. Hoyer

Thanks for the info. I understand the sensitive nature of the data and will await its publication. Hopefully it will answer the question of whether the Northwestern and Sierra Nevada subclades are allopatric or not. But if not, then perhaps future studies can address that question more specifically.



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