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Pantherophis gloydi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA COLUBRIDAE

Scientific Name: Pantherophis gloydi
Species Authority: (Conant, 1940)
Common Name/s:
English Eastern Foxsnake, Eastern Fox Snake
Taxonomic Notes: According to Powell (1990), the two subspecies (vulpinus and gloydi) of Pantherophis vulpinus as traditionally defined may be distinct species because they are allopatric with no evidence of gene exchange. Subspecies gloydi was proposed as a distinct species by Collins (1991), but no supporting data were presented. Harding (1997) treated the two taxa as different species, as did the checklists of Crother et al. (2000) and Collins and Taggart (2002). Ernst and Ernst (2003) kept gloydi as a subspecies of vulpinus, noting that the current disjunction between the ranges of the two taxa may be anthropogenic. Genetic differentiation between the two taxa has not been adequately examined, and their taxonomic relationship remains unclear.

Utiger et al. (2002) examined mtDNA variation in New World and Old World "Elaphe" and determined that North American rat snakes included in the genus Elaphe formed a monophyletic limeage that is distinct from Old World snakes that also have been regarded as Elaphe. They resurrected the genus Pantherophis for the rat snakes north of Mexico, including the following species: Pantherophis obsoletus (and P. alleghaniensis and P. spiloides, if one recognizes those taxa as species), P. guttatus, P. emoryi, P. vulpinus, P. gloydi, and P. bairdi. Crother et al. (2003) did not follow this taxonomy pending further research, and retained the traditional concept of Elaphe. Burbrink and Lawson (2007) agreed with Utiger et al. (2002) that these species do not belong in Elaphe, but suggested that the genus Pantherophis might belong in Pituophis. We place this species in Pantherophis, following Utiger et al. (2002) pending further information on the relationships of these taxa.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor/s: Hammerson, G.A.
Reviewer/s: Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Justification:
Listed as Near Threatened because its extent of occurrence is not much larger than 20,000 km², much of the distribution is fragmented, and habitats and populations appear to be declining as a result of various human activities (almost qualifies for Vulnerable under B1ab(iii)). However, the species probably is not declining fast enough to warrant listing in any of the threatened categories.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to southern Canada and northern United States. Its range is entirely within the Great Lakes basin and includes southern Ontario, the southeastern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan, and northern Ohio; north to near Saginaw Bay (Michigan) and Georgian Bay (Ontario); eastward along northern Lake Erie to Long Point Bay (Ontario) and along southern Lake Erie to Erie County, Ohio; the range includes Pelee Island and some smaller Lake Erie islands; isolated records from near Buffalo, New York, and the western end of Lake Ontario (Ontario) have not been confirmed; a record from Massachusetts probably reflects erroneous data (Conant 1938, 1940, 1951; Powell 1990; Harding 1997).
Countries:
Native:
Canada; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Powell (1990) mapped about 35 collection sites, but the number of distinct occurrences or subpopulations is not precisely known. Adult population size is unknown but presumably is at least several thousand. This snake is locally common where ample habitat remains (Harding 1997). Its area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size appear to be declining; the species is now uncommon or rare in many areas where formerly it was abundant (Harding 1997).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This snake inhabits shoreline marshes and vegetated dunes and beaches of the Great Lakes; it sometimes ranges into adjacent farm fields, pastures, and woodlots; it occupies rocky areas and open woodlands on Lake Erie islands; it rarely climbs into trees or shrubs, and it readily crosses bodies of water; hibernation occurs in mammal burrows, old buildings, or similar shelters (Harding 1997).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats include conversion of habitat to human uses (agriculture, industry, residential use), pollution and other habitat degradation, population fragmentation, mortality on roads, collection for the pet trade, and direct killing by humans (Harding 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This snake occurs within several nominally protected areas, but whether these can support long-term viable populations by themselves is unknown. This species would benefit from increased protection of coastal marshland habitat throughout the range. Better information on current distribution and abundance is needed; where are the best occurrences?
Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Pantherophis gloydi. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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