A Preliminary Genetic Investigation of the Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake Lampropeltis pyromelana.

Besides writing webpages, photographing, and traveling (all in the interests of my hobby), I also spend time performing herpetological research. Of course, what better research subjects than the animals I seem so devoted towards: the mountain kingsnakes. That's what I thought too. Let me explain this little project of mine...

The Sonoran mountain kingsnake displays a good deal of variability, much more so than the original taxonomists had believed. In the time since the original classifications, many more specimens of pyromelana have been produced. Additionally, a new population of pyromelana has recently surfaced. The new availablitiy of numerous locality specimens has brought into question the validity of the original classifications; some of the defining characteristcs used to classify these snakes have proven ambiguous. In an effort to better understand subspecific relationships, I have begun a preliminary genetic investigation of Lampropeltis pyromelana.

Limited by a lack of funding, I can only accomplish small portions at a time. Working out of Saint Louis University, I have begun the first phase of the project: a comparison of Black Range specimens to those of southwest New Mexico and adjacent southeastern Arizona. To compare populations, genetic material will be taken from specimens and tested for microsatellite loci frequency. The resulting data should give insights to the intraspecific relationships of pyromelana in this small part of is geographic distribution.

Hopefully, publication of initial data will assist in the securing of more grant money to complete the rest of the project: a comprehensive survey of the entire species in the United States and in Mexico with emphasis on isolated colonies. As soon as the initial data becomes available, it will be posted on this page. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting new project.

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