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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.

Bibliography [top]

Burbrink, F.T. and Lawson, R. 2007. How and when did Old World rat snakes disperse into the New World? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43: 173-189.

Collins, J.T. 1991. Viewpoint: a new taxonomic arrangement for some North American amphibians and reptiles. SSAR Herpetological Review 22(2): 42-43.

Collins, J.T. and Taggart, T.W. 2002. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians, turtles, reptiles and crocodilians. Fifth edition. Publication of The Center for North American Herpetology, Lawrence, Kansas. Iv + 44pp.

Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Crother, B.I., Boundy, J., Campbell, J.A., de Queiroz, K., Frost, D.R., Highton, R.H., Iverson, J.B., Meylan, P.A., Reeder, T.W., Seidel, M.E., Sites Jr., J.W., Taggart, T.W., Tilley, S.G. and Wake, D.B. 2000. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetological Circular No. 29. 82 pp.

Crother, B.I., Boundy, J., Campbell, J.A., de Quieroz, K., Frost, D., Green, D.M., Highton, R., Iverson, J.B., McDiarmid, R.W., Meylan, P.A., Reeder, T.W., Seidel, M.E., Sites Jr, J.W., Tilley, S.G. and Wake, D.B. 2003. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico: update. Herpetological Review 34: 196-203.

Ernst, C.H. and Barbour, R.W. 1989. Snakes of Eastern North America. George Mason University Press, Fairfax, Virginia. 282 pp.

Ernst, C.H. and Ernst, E.M. 2003. Snakes of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C.

Harding, J.H. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan. xvi + 378 pp.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Utiger, U., Helfenberger, N., Schmidt, B., Ruf, M. and Ziswiler, V. 2002. Molecular systematics and phylogeny of Old and New World ratsnakes, Elaphe auct., and related genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Russian Journal of Herpetology 9(2): 105-124.


Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Pantherophis vulpinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 September 2014.
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