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Pantherophis vulpinus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA COLUBRIDAE

Scientific Name: Pantherophis vulpinus
Species Authority: (Baird & Girard, 1853)
Common Name(s):
English Eastern Foxsnake, Eastern Fox Snake
Taxonomic Notes: According to Powell (1990), the two subspecies (vulpinus and gloydi) of Elaphe 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 of the relationships of these taxa.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern 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 Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to the United States. Its range extends from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan through Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, and Iowa to eastern Nebraska (possibly extreme northeastern Kansas), South Dakota, and northwestern Missouri and through northern and western Illinois to northwestern Indiana (Vogt 1981, Powell 1990, Oldfield and Moriarty 1994, Harding 1997, Phillips et al. 1999, Minton 2001).
Countries:
Native:
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 of occurrences (subpopulations). The adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000 and undoubtedly is much larger than that. This snake is locally common. The extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Habitats include dry and moist areas of farmland, prairie, pastures, open woodland (hardwoods, pines), forest edge, logged forest and old woodlots, woods near streams, stream valleys, pine barrens, oak savanna, and sandy oak scrub (Vogt 1981, Oldfield and Moriarty 1994, Harding 1997, Phillips et al. 1999, Minton 2001). This snake may spend much time in burrows and usually is found on the ground; it may hibernate in crevices, burrows, or old wells, sometimes underwater (Vogt 1981). Eggs are laid in old stumps, humus, or under logs and other objects on the ground (Vogt 1981).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major threats are known. This snake thrives on partial deforestation and where farming is not too extensively intensive.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Many occurrences are in protected areas.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Pantherophis vulpinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 24 October 2014.
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