Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

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Owen
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Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Owen » April 30th, 2012, 8:15 pm

I found 3 gartersnakes in a stock pond and I snapped pix and figured all were T. a. zaxanthus. But not so fast... one looked a little different. First, it had the tell-tale orange spots that T. e. terrestris has. Then it has the terrestris shaped internasals. Funny thing is it behaved like zaxanthus and has eyes like zaxanthus. The snake was 26-28" long and never came ashore. It swam and dove like an aquatic.

Snake in question:

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100% crop
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Others in the pond:

24" adult

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100% crop
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18" small adult or sub-adult

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A 24" adult zaxanthus from a creek about 1.5 miles away the day before.

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A 20" terrestris from about 1.5 miles away two weeks before (about to shed). Note the different eyes.

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Last years comparo terrestris top, zaxanthus bottom:

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Anyway, I tend to think hybrid, because it really behaved like an aquatic, but has some of the physical characterisics of terrestris.

I welcome any thoughts.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by El Garia » April 30th, 2012, 8:57 pm

I've been studying these pics for a while. Looks like a hybrid, to me.

"Coastablo"

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Fieldnotes » April 30th, 2012, 8:57 pm

You certainly know your garters.
The top one looks like an Aquatic to me, that dorsal stripe is pretty broad.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by JAMAUGHN » April 30th, 2012, 9:16 pm

Man, that's a tough one. It's really got characteristics of both. I'm with you and El Garia. Thamnophis elegatrus atregans? Weird one, Owen.

JimM

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Porter » May 1st, 2012, 11:35 am

That is clearly a giant gartersnake :roll:

I have a question about something I recently RE-noticed... that pertains to this. The first time I saw a Diablo Range gartersnake, I thought to myself, this is the "Aquatic" gartersnake from the old Stebbins guide. When I found the gigas this year, I notioned how much it looked like a intergrade between a Sierra Gartersnake and a Diablo Range gartersnake. Santa Cruz gartersnakes and Diablo Range gartersnakes look the same to me, except for obivious color differences. Even though Santa Cruz garters are normally darker, with black/dark bottom-side scales and black/dark bellies... and the dorsal stripe width. The drawing of a Santa Cruz in the old Stebbins field guide, looks like a Diablo (or Oregon gartersnake) and is an example of "Aquatic" Garter (Western Aquatic). To tie things together even more... Giant, Aquatic, Santa Cruz, and even Two-striped Garters were all sub-species of "couchi" (one "i" no pun intended) at one time.

Image
Stebbins Guide by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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Stebbins Guide by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

So my question is, what scientific discovery(ies) was(ere) made that confirmed or ulitamtely decided the separation of zaxanthus, hydrophilus, and atratus from couchi? ...making them sub-species of the Santa Cruz Gartesnake (atratus)... and gigas and hammondii each becoming, individual species (both displaying more "couchii" looking facial features and head structure)?

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by monklet » May 1st, 2012, 12:51 pm

Some killer pics there Owen! Great job :thumb:

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Jeff » May 1st, 2012, 1:05 pm

I've been studying these pics for a while. Looks like a hybrid, to me.

"Coastablo"
I prefer "Diablast"

I agree with the hybrid diagnosis: 1) both parent species occur at the site; 2) with limited aquatic habitat, the two species certainly come in spatial contact; 3) dorsal pattern and eyes are zaxanthus; 4) internasal/rostral contact and red spots on venter are terrestris. Such has already been noted by Owen.
So my question is, what scientific discovery(ies) was(ere) made that confirmed or ulitamtely decided the separation of zaxanthus, hydrophilus, and atratus from couchi? ...making them sub-species of the Santa Cruz Gartesnake (atratus)... and gigas and hammondii each becoming, individual species (both displaying more "couchii" looking facial features and head structure)?
A study of allozymes by Herb Dessauer and Robin Lawson (published 1979) found that snakes within the four groups (atratus, couchii, gigas, hammondii) were more closely related within a group than to adjacent populations of either of the other groups. That result lead Doug Rossman to evaluate morphology of snakes near contact zones between the four groups (published 1987). In the cases of hydrophilus and couchii in Shasta County, and couchii and hammondii at the SW end of the Tehachepi Mtns, the species pairs occurred in sympatry, and maintained their morphological identities, aside from occasional hybrids. No contact zones could be found for gigas with any of the other species despite careful search by Rossman in the Sacramento Valley and Bob Hansen (Thesis) in the eastern San Joaquin.

The color illustration of atratus by Stebbins resembles atratus X zaxanthus intergrades as found around the southern Santa Cruz Mtns (he states Santa Cruz Co.).

Jeff

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Owen » May 1st, 2012, 3:53 pm

Thanks Jeff :thumb:

I was thinkin' I had one of those Hi-breed thingys. Just halfway between both and acted like an aquatic. I guess I'll need to just voucher it as Thamnophis and put suspected hybrid in the comments.

Richard, looks like you have a challenge to find a contact zone for atratus and gigas.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Porter » May 1st, 2012, 8:52 pm

Jeff wrote: A study of allozymes by Herb Dessauer and Robin Lawson (published 1979) found that snakes within the four groups (atratus, couchii, gigas, hammondii) were more closely related within a group than to adjacent populations of either of the other groups. That result lead Doug Rossman to evaluate morphology of snakes near contact zones between the four groups (published 1987). In the cases of hydrophilus and couchii in Shasta County, and couchii and hammondii at the SW end of the Tehachepi Mtns, the species pairs occurred in sympatry, and maintained their morphological identities, aside from occasional hybrids. No contact zones could be found for gigas with any of the other species despite careful search by Rossman in the Sacramento Valley and Bob Hansen (Thesis) in the eastern San Joaquin.

The color illustration of atratus by Stebbins resembles atratus X zaxanthus intergrades as found around the southern Santa Cruz Mtns (he states Santa Cruz Co.).

Jeff
So, is it safe to say there is a similar "ring-species" scenario going on between the couchii, like there is with Ensatina? If not, what is the difference? How does this compare to Western Pond Turtle classification, which was changed to Northern/Southern and then reverted back to simpily, Western (or pacific) Pond Turtle?

If it was possible for Orgeon X Sierra hybrids... and Two-striped X Sierra hybrids... why was, "couchi" removed from their names?

Owen wrote: Richard, looks like you have a challenge to find a contact zone for atratus and gigas.
I saw a post comparing Orgeon to Giants (by Fieldnotes, I think..?) I have an idea where a (if any) integration zone, "may" be... not sure if I can get to it though...lol I'm guessing it would have to be the same area Bob Hansen checked at that time. Would finding an intergrade between the two, confirm a ring species of all aquatic gartersnakes requiring a new name, similar to, "Ensatina" for example?

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Jeff » May 3rd, 2012, 5:11 pm

So, is it safe to say there is a similar "ring-species" scenario going on between the couchii, like there is with Ensatina? If not, what is the difference? How does this compare to Western Pond Turtle classification, which was changed to Northern/Southern and then reverted back to simpily, Western (or pacific) Pond Turtle?

If it was possible for Orgeon X Sierra hybrids... and Two-striped X Sierra hybrids... why was, "couchi" removed from their names?
In 1940 Henry Fitch published his dissertation on western Thamnophis, using the term "artenkreis" (=species ring) that combined the Northwestern (ordinoides), aquatic group and terrestrial groups of species. Further resolution by Wade Fox (1951) termed the aquatic group a "rassenkreis" (=race ring), which formed the group of aquatic species (atratus, gigas, couchii, hammondii) as a related system of populations that diverged from some point, then met at a geographic terminus (central coast overlap of atratus and hammondii). A "rassenkreis" suggests a continuum of population divergence away from a point of origin. In that scenario (I recommend reading Ernst Mayr's "Animal Species and Evolution", 1966 and John Endler's 1977 "Geographic variation, speciation, and clines"), the annectent populations seem to grade away from each other in a cline that defies categorization, but at the termini, clearly reflect separate species. That was the result of Stebbins' 1949 monograph on Ensatina, in which populations graded away from a Cascade origin into a coast and Sierran-Transverse series that re-united in the Laguna Mtns. of San Diego County of brown (eschscholtzii) or black and orange (klauberi) populations that, at rare times, hybridized with each other.

The situation between Ensatina and the Thamnophis couchii complex is similar, except that salamanders have an older geologic history that has been thoroughly scrutinized by Dave Wake and his students, whereas the garter snakes are of more recent origin (which requires evaluation of different genomes), and have been studied in a broader sense than the salamanders. Wake's studies have demonstrated that Ensatinas have evolved into numerous population groups (clades) that might dictate numerous species, but his studies have found a taxonomically undefinable array of population expansions and introgressions that cannot conform to a simplistic species/subspecies assignment. With the Thamnophis couchii (aquatic group) complex, the geologic timescale is shorter, and the gene/morphology correspondence is more facile. Thus, the dissolution of Fox's Thamnophis couchii in four annectent groups (clades), with subsequent evaluation of contact zones, recommends the recognition of distinct species of garter snakes.

Jeff

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Owen » May 6th, 2012, 7:39 pm

I'm wondering how much hybridizing might occur within the two populations. I did check the pond this morning and I saw 6 snakes: 3 adults (~24" up) and 3 sub-adults (~18"). There's also a big Red-legged Frog that surfaces or about a second to gulb air before hitting bottom for ten minutes.

Anyway, I managed to grab 3 today along the shoreline/shallows and I'll try to photo the many of the identifying diagnostic characteristics as possible going forward.

Sub-adult.
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Large adult.
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Medium adult with some seriously enlarged 6,7 labials.
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On Friday, I found a couple juveniles about 15" to 16" long. One near a pond and another near a creek.

Pond juvie.
Image

Creek juvie (equal length chin shields).
Image

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Owen » June 14th, 2012, 2:23 pm

I found the original snake's sibling (I'm guessing). Same pond, about the same length, maybe a tick larger. Intermediate characteristics between elegans and atratus. Definitely a different snake. It's a little more Coastie looking, but has that broad dorsal stripe that Diablos have:

Image

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Funny, but this guy was swimming and diving too. I actually spotted it swimming parallel to shore about 3 feet out past the weeds. It dove when it saw me:

Image

Image

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by herper79 » June 14th, 2012, 7:22 pm

I see what you mean. Good pics illustrating that.
I have never seen a YBR in water diving! Pretty cool dude.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Fundad » June 14th, 2012, 7:31 pm

Owen, Garter snakes confuse me, and so does your pictures.. :lol: But that isn't hard..

You might ask Bob Hansen or point him to this post for his thoughts, he is 100 times smarter then I am..

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Robert Hansen » June 14th, 2012, 8:04 pm

Brian:

Actually, I earlier alerted Jeff Boundy to Owen's initial post, given that Jeff is the guy who published the description of Thamnophis atratus zaxanthus (Diablo Range Gartersnake) and knows the garter snakes of that region better than anyone. I think it's quite interesting that hybridization appears to be taking place between terrestris and zaxanthus, as this is generally a pretty rare phenomenon in snakes. Definitely cool stuff.

Cheers,

BH

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by El Garia » June 14th, 2012, 8:21 pm

Owen,

That's one strange, but beautiful looking 'Thamnophis...' :shock: It's The Pond of Dr. Moreau. Superb identifier and comparison shots. Everything about their morphology is intermediate between elegans terrestris and atratus: head shape, labials, pattern, coloration... And those eyes! The eyes and lenses of both specimens are different from the eyes of atratus or elegant terrestris... they're intermediate between the two.

Nice hybrid! :thumb:

All you need to do now is to take a tissue sample. It's then, that the dudes in the lab coats can officially confirm what you already know :D

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by monklet » June 14th, 2012, 8:26 pm

Totally ignorant, but seems possible that speciation may in some cases arise from situational hybridization.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by El Garia » June 14th, 2012, 9:34 pm

monklet wrote:Totally ignorant, but seems possible that speciation may in some cases arise from situational hybridization.
Good point. It seems more than likely, if not definite, that speciation through hybridization has occurred in the past and will continue to occur. Just look at the revised genetic history of modern man...

Owen- Interesting observation with the mormon. I believe that Richard Porter had noted similar hunting behavior

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Fieldherper » June 15th, 2012, 4:48 am

Just one question: How bad do your hands smell???????????????????????

I remember when I was 16yrs old catching 2 absolutely enormous Diablo garters in a large reservoir in Santa Clara Co. These things were massive and obviously dined well on lots of fish. I am not exaggerating when I say that they were over 40 inches and THICK! Still, to this day, the biggest garters I have ever seen. I grabbed one near the shoreline and it unloaded the most horrific pile of musk and feces up the length of my forearm. I washed my hands in the water and rubbed sand/dirt on them for awhile to no avail. On the way home, I stopped in a fast food joint and spent 15 minutes in the BR repeatedly washing my hands with soap. When I got home, I repeated several times. Took over 3 days for the smell to come off. I can still smell it if I think about it... Ever since then, I have been a keen observer, but not handler of garter snakes.

FH

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by hellihooks » June 15th, 2012, 5:48 am

1 stripe, 2 stripe
red stripe, blue stripe...
:crazyeyes: :lol: :lol: :lol: jim

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by monklet » June 15th, 2012, 7:02 am

El Garia wrote:
monklet wrote:Totally ignorant, but seems possible that speciation may in some cases arise from situational hybridization.
Good point. It seems more than likely, if not definite, that speciation through hybridization has occurred in the past and will continue to occur. Just look at the revised genetic history of modern man...

Owen- Interesting observation with the mormon. I believe that Richard Porter had noted similar hunting behavior
Thanks for taking me up on that. Humans certainly do intra-specific hybridization but generally not in a reproductively isolated population, so that instead of giving rise to subspecies, globalization and intercontinental diffusion have put the human species in a blender. I predict that within 100 years or so, there will be few places on earth with racially distinct humans and for the most part there'll be just one race of mutts. Which may be a very good thing if it gives us one less "lack of" reason to hate and oppress ...but there'll always be another reason for that due to our intrinsic xenophobia and need to divide and define groups based on real or perceived differences. :(

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Owen » June 15th, 2012, 3:26 pm

Fieldherper wrote:Just one question: How bad do your hands smell???????????????????????

I remember when I was 16yrs old catching 2 absolutely enormous Diablo garters in a large reservoir in Santa Clara Co. These things were massive and obviously dined well on lots of fish. I am not exaggerating when I say that they were over 40 inches and THICK! Still, to this day, the biggest garters I have ever seen. I grabbed one near the shoreline and it unloaded the most horrific pile of musk and feces up the length of my forearm. I washed my hands in the water and rubbed sand/dirt on them for awhile to no avail. On the way home, I stopped in a fast food joint and spent 15 minutes in the BR repeatedly washing my hands with soap. When I got home, I repeated several times. Took over 3 days for the smell to come off. I can still smell it if I think about it... Ever since then, I have been a keen observer, but not handler of garter snakes.

FH
Very non-stinky that day. I handled 4 and VERY minimal musking took place; probably because I grabbed them all in the water and eased them out. Far more than usual handling, but I'm taking more detailed diagnostic shots of these guys. No fish in this pond. Just CA Toads, Sierran Chorus Frogs, CA Red-legged and probably CA Tiger Salamander larvae. Lots of insects and snails as well.

Those are HUGE diablos that you mention. Most that I see are between 18" and 24" with the biggest going around 28" or so. I've seen Santa Cruz that size (36" missing half the tail), but not Diablos. Now Red-sided... that's a different story.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by todd battey » June 15th, 2012, 5:00 pm

Great set of Thamnophis images. I especially like the comparison shots. Nicely done.

Your avatar image makes me want to cry.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by frodaman » June 15th, 2012, 5:16 pm

I applaud you photography skills!

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Porter » June 15th, 2012, 9:32 pm

El Garia wrote: Owen- Interesting observation with the mormon. I believe that Richard Porter had noted similar hunting behavior
The first YBR I ever saw, I netted in Elk Grove, CA when I was a kid. I was walking waste deep through a canal and noticed the snake a good 5 ft or more, away from the shore, hunting/basking on top of aquatic plants (gigas habitat plants... what the heck are those plants called BTW..? lol) I'm guessing there was at least 2 feet of water beneath the plants the snake was on... We called it a, "green watersnake" and I kept it as a pet... clearly YBR without a doubt... green fade to olive brown color, large dark eyes, yellow belly, ect... I found out later what the real name was. It did not take feeder fish from what I remember...
herper79 wrote:I see what you mean. Good pics illustrating that.
I have never seen a YBR in water diving! Pretty cool dude.

At 0:52 of this video... slightly north east of dead center in the video scene... you can see the YBR submerged swimming across the bottom... similar to aquatic garters. Of course this is a provoked situation and just about all (if not all) snakes are good swimmers.... however, this clearly displays their ability to not only swim a substantial distance while submerged... but also choose direction tward land by parascoping from the waters suface (much of the footage has been cut... this snake swam a good 5 minutes. So far away, I could barely see it on full zoom... then turned around and came back to me.. where the neareast shore line was...)



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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by FunkyRes » June 16th, 2012, 4:13 am

Porter wrote: So my question is, what scientific discovery(ies) was(ere) made that confirmed or ulitamtely decided the separation of zaxanthus, hydrophilus, and atratus from couchi? ...making them sub-species of the Santa Cruz Gartesnake (atratus)... and gigas and hammondii each becoming, individual species (both displaying more "couchii" looking facial features and head structure)?
I would like to do my best at answering the couchii / hydrophilus question as the contact zone occurs in my county, I asked this question of Jeff who was kind enough to send me the paper that investigated it.

The contact zone is rather small. The following range maps are my creation and are a combination of the very incorrect DF&G range maps (which had a contact zone going all the way down into Tehama county), dot localities from vertebrate museums involving specimens examined for the paper, and guesses on my part based upon density of streams (using a GIS file or northern California creeks)

The range maps are SVG files and won't work in IE 6/7/8 but work every other browser (except some android builds of default android browser):

http://www.shastaherps.org/map/AquaticGarter.svg

The contact zone (including creeks) :

http://www.shastaherps.org/map/pitContact.svg

Geo-references of specimens were not precise enough for dot localities within contact zone scale of maps.

Even though they share micro-habitat preferences, there appears to be a macro habitat difference between the two forms. Where museum records exist for Oregon garters, there are more creeks per square area than where museum records exist for Sierra garters. The contact zone (where hybrids have been found) is intermediate stream density per square area.

In the contact zone, pure Sierra are readily distinguished from pure Oregon by the belly.

Belly of pure Sierra:

Image

That specimen was found by me just outside the contact zone by a few creeks. Sierra garters in this part of the range have marbled blotched bellies on a rust / orange background. Oregon garters (no belly photo) have un-blotched cream bellies.

There are scale count differences.

The Sierra Garter Snake tends to have 169 to 187 ventral scales. The Oregon Garter Snake tends to have 156 to 168 ventral scales. In both species, males tend to be higher in the ventral scale count than female.

There may be a difference in chin shields but I don't know.

Oregon garters, like other atratus, the rear chin shields are significantly longer than the front.
Sierra, the one specimen I've found that did not appear to be the case and a specimen in the paper Jeff sent me it appears to not be the case.

Image

It would be interesting to measure museum specimens.

Anyway, what makes Oregon and Sierra different species is that the contact zone is small with no apparent gene flow between the two species. Occasional hybrids are found but are less common than "pure" of either species, and it appears that nature selects against the hybrid genotype so that F1 hybrids are all that are ever found, their lines end there. Thus, Oregon and Sierra garters are distinct lineages that are diverging and as such are distinct species.

Where the two species approach the Sacramento River in southern Shasta County and northern Tehama County, they get close to each other but no contact zone exists.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Jeff » June 16th, 2012, 1:36 pm

I'm a little late on chiming in, but back to Owen's May 6 report, they all look like typical atratus except for the "creek juvie", which has several characteristics of elegans: herringbone dorsal stripe, wide anterior internasal sutures, short posterior chin shields. The pupil resembles that of atratus. Back around 1970-71, at "the" creek on the east side of Owen's study site, my brothers and I were finding atratus, and one brother reported that he'd seen one with red on it.

The latest snake is a good mix of characters of both atratus and elegans. I've seen elegans with broad vertebral stripes around Monterey Bay, but never inland. Combined with the excellent diagnostic photos, this group would make an excellent genetic study. Owen... Owen...

Jeff

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by jared68nova » June 16th, 2012, 2:09 pm

I am not sure of where these pics have been taken, but that "hybrid" kinda makes me think of sirtalis fitchi, Valley Garter. Their range supposedly intersects with Diablos, at least from what i have read.I dunno.... I could be way off. Those red orange specks do look Coastie, but something just seems off to me.I am thinking Valley or possible valley/diablo cross.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Owen » June 16th, 2012, 3:51 pm

Jeff wrote:I'm a little late on chiming in, but back to Owen's May 6 report, they all look like typical atratus except for the "creek juvie", which has several characteristics of elegans: herringbone dorsal stripe, wide anterior internasal sutures, short posterior chin shields. The pupil resembles that of atratus. Back around 1970-71, at "the" creek on the east side of Owen's study site, my brothers and I were finding atratus, and one brother reported that he'd seen one with red on it.

The latest snake is a good mix of characters of both atratus and elegans. I've seen elegans with broad vertebral stripes around Monterey Bay, but never inland. Combined with the excellent diagnostic photos, this group would make an excellent genetic study. Owen... Owen...

Jeff
There are both atratus and elegans at 'the creek'. This juvie was from about 3/4mi from the other creek juvie and is obviously elegans looking:

Image

But then again, what do I know? I'm just a caveman :lol:

Image

The food supply at the pond is currently plentiful. Lots of toadlets and some chorus. I saw 3 bigger CaRLF, but the transformed ones are still about a month away. Here's another shot of the original snake- not quite the looker as the second:

Image

Jared, I've seen some Red-sided with reduced red on the heads that look similar to a infernalis/fitchi intergrade, but only one snake that looked like it had questionable parentage:

Image

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both?

Post by Owen » August 15th, 2012, 12:45 pm

Sad news. I found the original snake again today... a victim of bovine stompitude. That will be the 3rd this year.

Here's the snake in June:

Image

And a probably 2 days dead series from this morning. Kinda stinks a bit.

Image

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Owen » April 14th, 2014, 7:19 pm

2 years later and I'm now seeing the surviving snake for the 3rd season. Here it is teething on a newt that it brought ashore about a dozen feet away from me:

14 minutes after hauling onshore. Nice little newt hematoma forming.
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24 minutes in...
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35 minutes in...
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I've never entered this snake into H.E.R.P. due to the questionable parentage. I could do it as a terrestris and in comments put possible zaxanthus hybrid.

The video quality sucks. Note to self: use manual focus and maybe a small pod.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Zach_Lim » April 15th, 2014, 1:39 pm

Glad this thread was bumped back up.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by jared68nova » April 16th, 2014, 6:35 pm

Awesome video footage! I had a Santa Clara county SC garter swim up in front of me last season and scarf down a newt...along with some aquatic vegetation...interesting process for sure. Since we are on the topic of strange garters... In San Mateo county on multiple outings with Zach and Talltree we have found a few odd looking SC's and Coasties. One "morph" we dubbed the Coast/Diablo, which I don't have pics of, the other was the SC/Diablo pictured below. The SC/Diablo has very odd labials and a three striped appearance unlike typical SC's found in the area which usually are black all the way down to the ventral surface with a wide orange dorsal stripe.

typical Santa Cruz garter from Santa Clara county

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typical Diablos

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Atratus atratus next to Atratus zaxanthus in captivity

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Weird SC/Diablo

labials
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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by jared68nova » April 16th, 2014, 6:40 pm

Is there a definitive intergradation zone where Atratus atratus meets with Atratus zaxanthus? Like a southern version of the Marin County intergrades?

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Owen » April 16th, 2014, 8:46 pm

jared68nova wrote:Is there a definitive intergradation zone where Atratus atratus meets with Atratus zaxanthus? Like a southern version of the Marin County intergrades?
Maybe Jeff Boundy will chime in on the intergrade zone... I think it's fairly wide, but maybe a 3-way with Oregons. In Santa Clara County, there's an area where zaxanthus wraps around into the west side of the valley and there doesn't really appear to be in intergrade zone there. You can find 1 sub 3-4 miles from the other.

I love garter snakes... they're like a box of chocolates. 9 upper labials:

Image

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by hellihooks » April 22nd, 2014, 2:16 pm

I'm trying SO HARD to care... but just can't seem to get there... :lol: :lol: :lol: Hell... I'm working on patchnose intergradation zones (which I find engrossing... :crazyeyes: ) so... I can relate. Glad to see you Nor Cal guys are keeping yourselves entertained... :D :lol: :lol: jim

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Brian Hubbs » April 27th, 2014, 1:36 pm

I don't believe in the split up of couchi. I think they are all the same species. So there. Oh, and I have proof...

Just kiddin'...was tryin' to provoke Jeff into posting again, but no dice. He explained the split to me and it actually sounds logical...so who cares....?

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Owen » April 29th, 2014, 4:38 pm

Brian Hubbs wrote:I don't believe in the split up of couchi. I think they are all the same species. So there. Oh, and I have proof...

Just kiddin'...was tryin' to provoke Jeff into posting again, but no dice. He explained the split to me and it actually sounds logical...so who cares....?
Well... I think there is an atratus and couchii split, but I'm lumping hammondii into couchii and gigas into atratus. Why? Just because I say so (Hubbs justification method). That DNA stuff is too small to see. I rely on phenotype, behavior and borders. hammondii and atratus (zaxanthus) overlap and maintain their distinctness, so lumping them together in the old 'couchii' is total horse pucky :lol:

Of course, I'm just having fun with the thread but...

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Brian Hubbs » April 30th, 2014, 9:22 am

Fun? What is fun?

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Jeff » April 30th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Lampropeltis nigra / Lampropeltis holbrooki....
He explained the split to me and it actually sounds logical
....forever etched in electrons


But back to garter snakes... I was provoked into a renewed sense that Owen gets it when it comes to inner Coast Range garters. The torch has been passed.

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Re: Gartersnake: Diablo, Coast or Both? (update)

Post by Brian Hubbs » April 30th, 2014, 9:29 pm

Nice try grasshopper, but I will never accept the getula split. Now that's really poor science... :roll:

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