at Wed Nov 12 00:51:51 2008 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by RichardFHoyer ]
Because the officially recognized SRB subspecies occurs as isolated populations only in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mts., it probably has been considerable time since any gene flow occurred between those populations and C. b. bottae.
However, if one includes the Southern Clade boa population that occurs in the southern Kern Plateau, then gene flow between the Southern and Northern Clades has likely been ongoing for eons somewhere in Tulare and Inyo counties .
Before I undertook the SRB study during 1993 - 1997, I had doubts about the SRB being recognized as a distinct subspecies. But during that study, the population in the San Bernardino Mts. did seem pretty unique at the time. The characteristic described for the subspecies by Klauber in 1943 from only two specimens, are rather consistent in the SRBs in the San Bernardino Mts. No one has undertaken a study of the SRB in the San Jacinto Mts. so nothing of much certainty can be said about that population.
Since that time, I have discovered that 1) there are other boa populations that similar to the SRBs, are also of the dwarf morph and 2) considerable overlap in defining traits occur between the SRB and other Northern Clade boa populations in S. Calif. So the subspecies designation comes into question again.
The mtDNA data however, is a powerful argument in favor of subspecies status. I know little about taxonomy per se and thus leave it up to those more versed to sort out the pros and cons. I have never considered umbratica as a separate species. Well before Javier's publication, I was aware that to much overlap in defining traits occurred between the SRB and boas from other populations including one population in SW Oregon. Then with my examination of other boa populations in S. Calif., and in particular the Mt. Pinos boa population, with the amount of overlap of key traits, those boas make a mockery of the subspecies designations----but only from a morphological perspective.
With the discovery of the Southern Clade occurring in the Kern Plateau, not only does that revelation likely sink the separate species scenario, it probably puts into question the subspecies designation as well. Perhaps it may come down to just how much divergence occurs between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mts. populations and the Southern Clade boas that occur on the Kern Plateau.
Richard F. Hoyer
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