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Drymarchon melanurus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA COLUBRIDAE

Scientific Name: Drymarchon melanurus
Species Authority: (Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril, 1854)
Common Name(s):
English Central American Indigo Snake, Western Indigo Snake
Taxonomic Notes: Wuster et al. (2001) described a new species of Drymarchon from northwestern Venezuela, bringing the species total for the genus to four (five if couperi is recognized as a species). This taxonomic rearrangement treats D. corais and D. melanurus as distinct species. The species in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America west of the Andes and in Venezuela is D. melanurus. D. corais occurs in South America east of the Andes (Wuster et al. 2001). Crother et al. (2003) adopted this taxonomy.

Subspecies couperi was proposed as a distinct species by Collins (1991), based on previously published (but unspecified) morphological differences and application of the evolutionary species concept. Recent checklists (e.g., Crother et al. 2000, Collins and Taggart 2002) have listed couperi as a species, although no new data supporting the split have been presented. This assessment accepts Drymarchon couperi as a species, based on similar treatment in most relevant recent literature (e.g., Crother et al. 2000). However, further study is warranted.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Lee, J., Calderón Mandujano, R., Lopez-Luna, M.A., Vasquez Díaz, J. & Quintero Díaz, G.E.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern in view of its extremely wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining at present.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The range extends in the United States from southern Texas and Sonora south through the Gulf Coast of Mexico through the Yucatan peninsula including Guatemala and Belize. On the Pacific slope it extends from Sinaloa, Mexico, southward to lower Central America. The elevational range is from near sea level to around 1,900 m asl (6,230 feet) (Campbell 1998).
Countries:
Native:
Belize; Guatemala; Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is represented by a large number (probably hundreds) of occurrences or subpopulations (see map in McCranie 1980). The total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000 (conservatively assuming a density of at least one adult per sq. km in an area of occupancy of at least 200,000 sq. km). The species has declined in distribution and abundance at the northern end of the range in Texas, but it remains locally common there in some areas (Irwin 1995). Overall, the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are large and probably relatively stable or at least not declining more than 10% over 10 years or three generations. The species is common in Mexico.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In the southern part of the range, habitat includes tropical and subtropical wet, moist, and dry forests (including secondary growth and often near water), edges of forest clearings, riparian zones through open areas, savannas, and mangroves (Campbell 1998, Lee 2000). In Texas, it occurs primarily along riparian corridors in thorn brush woodland and mesquite savanna of the coastal plain, but also in prairies, coastal sandhills, and limestone desert (Tennant 1998). This is a primarily terrestrial snake that often uses burrows. Eggs may be laid in gopher (Geomys) burrows or similar sites. In Mexico the species occupies a variety of habitats including savannas, mangroves, thorn forests, and taller wetter forests.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In Texas, threats include habitat destruction and fragmentation, mortality on roads, wanton killing, and, to a lesser degree, collection for the pet trade (Tennant 1984, Ernst and Ernst 2003). However, in most of the range, this species does not appear to be significantly threatened. There are no major threats to the species in Mexico.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species occurs in several protected areas.

Citation: Lee, J., Calderón Mandujano, R., Lopez-Luna, M.A., Vasquez Díaz, J. & Quintero Díaz, G.E. 2007. Drymarchon melanurus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 July 2014.
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