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Pantherophis slowinskii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA COLUBRIDAE

Scientific Name: Pantherophis slowinskii
Species Authority: (Burbrink, 2002)
Common Name(s):
English Slowinski's Cornsnake
Synonym(s):
Elaphe slowinskii Burbrink, 2002
Taxonomic Notes: Burbrink (2001) used cytochrome b sequences to examine phylogenetic relationships among E. guttata populations (one specimen from each of 53 locations throughout most of the range). He found no support for recognition of the nominal subspecies intermontanus and meahllmorum as distinct taxa; these appear to be junior synonyms of E. guttata emoryi. Burbrink identified three partitions of E. guttata: an eastern partition (east of the Mississippi River) corresponding to E. guttata guttata, a western partition corresponding to E. guttata emoryi (including E. g. intermontanus and E. g. meahllmorum), and a central partition in western Louisiana and eastern Texas. The central partition, in pine and pine-hardwood habitat west of the Mississippi River, clustered closer to the eastern partition than to the western partition. Burbrink recognized the three partitions as species using evolutionary species criteria: (1) Elaphe guttata (Red Corn Snake) (eastern partition ), (2) Elaphe emoryi (Great Plains Rat Snake) (western partition), and (3) Elaphe slowinskii (Slowinski's Corn Snake) (central partition). One specimen (Hidalgo County, Texas) of the central partition (based on cytochrome b characteristics) was located outside the presumed geographic area and habitat identified for other members of that partition. Crother et al. (2003) adopted these changes. Ernst and Ernst (2003) recognized E. emoryi and E. guttata as distinct species, but their manuscript evidently was completed before Burbrink's paper was published; they did not comment on E. slowinskii.

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 form a monophyletic lineage 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) noted this proposal but did not adopt it, pending further review. 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 retain 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: Data Deficient 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:
This snake was only recently recognized as a distinct species. Its range and habitat appear to be similar to those of Pituophis ruthveni, a species that has declined significantly as a result of habitat loss and degradation. However, very little information on the current status of P. slowinskii is available.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the south of the United States. Its range includes eastern Texas and western Louisiana (Burbrink 2002). Taxonomic affiliation of cornsnakes in adjacent southern Arkansas (Trauth et al. 2004) is uncertain, but presumably the species there is slowinskii.
Countries:
Native:
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is represented by many historical occurrences (subpopulations), but the current status of most of these is unknown. Werler and Dixon (2000) mapped about 28 collection sites in eastern Texas. Dundee and Rossman (1989) mapped about 18 collection sites in western Louisiana. Adult population size is unknown. Trends in extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are unknown.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Habitat in eastern Texas includes pine-oak woodland (Werler and Dixon 2000). Many specimens in northern Louisiana were collected in cultivated fields, pasturelands, barns, and abandoned buildings (see Dundee and Rossman 1989). Werler and Dixon (2000) commented that "next to nothing is known about this snake's natural history in Texas."
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major threats are known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: At least several occurrences are in protected areas.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Pantherophis slowinskii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 October 2014.
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