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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Phylogenetics of Kingsnakes, Lampropeltis getula Complex (Serpentes: Colubridae), in Eastern North America

Kenneth L Krysko, Leroy P Nuñez, Catherine E Newman, Brian W Bowen
Journal of Heredity 2017 May 1, 108 (3): 226-238
28119446
Kingsnakes of the Lampropeltis getula complex range throughout much of temperate and subtropical North America. Studies over the last century have used morphology and color pattern to describe numerous subspecies. More recently, DNA analyses have made invaluable contributions to our understanding of their evolution and taxonomy. We use genetic and ecological methods to test previous hypotheses of distinct evolutionary lineages by examining 66 total snakes and 1) analyzing phylogeographic structure using 2 mtDNA loci and 1 nuclear locus, 2) estimating divergence dates and historical demography among lineages in a Bayesian coalescent framework, and 3) applying ecological niche modeling (ENM). Our molecular data and ENMs illustrate that 3 previously recognized subspecies in the eastern United States comprise well-supported monophyletic lineages that diverged during the Pleistocene. The geographic boundaries of these 3 lineages correspond closely to known biogeographic barriers (Florida peninsula, Appalachian Mountains, and Apalachicola River) previously identified for other plants and animals, indicating shared geographic influences on evolutionary history. We conclude that genetic, ecological, and morphological data support recognition of these 3 lineages as distinct species (Lampropeltis floridana, Lampropeltis getula, and Lampropeltis meansi).

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