Morphological variation and zoogeography of racers (Coluber constrictor) in the central Rocky Mountains

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We examined 63 specimens of Coluber constrictor from Colorado and Utah using eight external morphological characters that have been used to distinguish C. c. mormon from C. c. flaviventris. We grouped the snakes into three Operational Taxonomic Units (OTU's) in a transect across the Rocky Mountains: the eastern Front Range foothills in Colorado; the inter-mountain region (western slope of Colorado and northeastern Utah); and the western foothills of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. Statistically significant variation among the OTU's was discovered for ration of tail length to total length, number of central and subcaudal scales, and number of dentary teeth. However, variation is clinal with nearly complete overlap from one end f the transect to the other for each character, suggesting a wide zone of intergradiation in the inter-mountain region. We do not believe reported differences in reproductive parameters between Great Plains and Great Basin racers are sufficient grounds for recognition of species, because clutch size is both geographically variable and dependent on the environment. The distribution of C. constrictor is similar to that of other reptiles with transmontane distributions in the western United States, and we suggest two possible routes of dispersal across the Continental Divide in southwestern Wyoming. Thus, elevation of C. c. mormon to species status is not supported by morphological, reproductive, or zoogeographic evidence.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Morphological variation and zoogeography of racers (Coluber constrictor) in the central Rocky Mountains
Series title Herpetologica
Volume 42
Issue 2
Year Published 1986
Language English
Publisher Herpetologists' League
Publisher location Austin, TX
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Herpetologica
First page 258
Last page 264
Country United States
State Colorado;Utah
Other Geospatial Rocky Mountains
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