Needing help

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Richard F. Hoyer
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Needing help

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 21st, 2014, 9:19 pm

Needing help.
I recently completed my annual spring herping jaunt to and from S. Calif. stopping in Lake, NE Sonoma, Kern, and Tulare Counties to make searches. My primary goal was to try and increase my sample size of the Rubber Boa on the S. Kern Plateau. Temperature condition were ideal, in the 60's. But apparently due to the drought and excessively dry soil beneath natural cover objects, I came up empty on both the afternoon of 5/12 and late morning / early afternoon of 5/13. Temperature conditions were not suitable for night driving.

Since 2002, I have recorded information on 19 Rubber Boas from the S. Kern Plateau and wish to increase that sample size if possible. If anyone happens to road cruise the upper Nine-mile Canyon / Kennedy Meadows Road (Sherman Pass Hwy.) in the coming months and encounters any boas on that road, please hang on to them and contact me either at by telephone (541-752-6888) or email [email protected]

I will reimburse shipping costs and return the specimens if so requested as I have done in the past.

As for the herps observed during the trip -- One Yellow-blotched Ensatina, uncounted numbers of Sagebrush lizards, W. Fence Lizards, one S. Alligator Lizard, a fair number of N. Alligator Lizards, three Ringneck Snakes, one juvenile N. Pac. Rattlesnake, one Calif. Mt. Kingsnake, three Stripped Racers, one juvenile Gopher Snake, and 14 Rubber Boas, 5 in Calif. and 9 Oregon.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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Re: Needing help

Post by Fieldnotes » May 23rd, 2014, 7:45 pm

I am a great admirer of your research and have been proud to contribute to past studies. I will be sure to let you know about any boas I happen upon this year and beyond. As a bit of interest, I’ve attached habitat images of localitions where I’ve seen boas.

Image
Kern Plateau

Image
Breckenridge Mtn

Image
Great Basin Desert in Mono County

Image
Berkeley Hills

Image
Along the coast in San Mateo County

Image
Santa Cruz Mtns

Image
Northern Coast Range

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Re: Needing help

Post by hellihooks » May 24th, 2014, 4:50 am

I'm gonna try to go back there soon, and will of course collect any boas I see, for your research, Richard. the main reason I want to go is that those striped racers you saw were more likely desert whipsnakes, which are still a lifer for me, and have eluded me there before. In fact... the same big 4 footer eluded me twice... but.. I KNOW where he lives...lol jim

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Re: Needing help

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 24th, 2014, 9:31 am

Jim:
It has been a number of years ago that I saw those snakes on the Kern Plateau. At an earlier time, I had found a boa skin at the many outcrops that extend westward starting just a few hundred meters west of the S. Fork, Kern River bridge. On that particular occasion, I recall finding a Stripped Racer (M. lateralis), a Mt. Kingsnake, at three Nightsnakes if my memory serves me correctly. I reported my observations to Robert Hansen and he mentioned that finding a Striped Racer would represent a new locality record for the species.

Now I have observed this species a fair number of times, most recently three specimens on Mt. Pinos just this past May 11th. To me, the Striped Whipsnake (M. taeniatus) looks very different from the Striped Racer (M. lateralis) and I do not believe I have my species mixed. I recall last viewing a Striped Whipsnake as a DOR on Hwy. 395 north of Bishop a good number of years ago. To me, the two species are rather distinct and thus easy to discern one from another. But since no one is perfect, there remains the chance I could have made an error in indemnification.

Let me know if you find the 'Desert Whipsnake' which I assume is a form of M. taeniatus. But of course, I am really hoping you find one or more boas under some rocks or crossing the road.

Richard FH

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Re: Needing help

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 24th, 2014, 9:45 am

William:
Some of your photo are quite familiar. In your photo of the outcrop on the S. Kern Plateau, at the upper left side, I can see the medium size, flat rocks where I observed large aggregations of NALs in 2009 and again this year.

And in the last photograph along the N. Calif. coast, if you look closely, I believe you can see my finger prints on that roofing tin. Hah!

Richard FH

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Re: Needing help

Post by monklet » May 24th, 2014, 10:32 am

I found what I think was a DOR M. lateralis toward the top of 9 Mile a few years back. I know the difference but have to admit I was not aware that it would be unexpected and so may been too casual in my ID. I believe I told Will about it and he was naturally skeptical.

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Re: Needing help

Post by hellihooks » May 24th, 2014, 1:43 pm

First of all... I fully trust your ability to ID snakes Richard, but wasn't sure you knew Desert Whips COULD be found there...To tell the truth... the snake I chased twice looked just like a lateralis to me, but I assumed it must be a desert whip, having found it at the eastern end of K-med, rather than further interior into the Sierras, where lateralis would be more likely to be found. it's hard to ID snakes seen moving so fast, and for such a short time. I wonder if they intergrade? Guess I'll have to go catch one and start counting scale rows... ;)
Given whats been said here... it's a win-win for me (if I catch one)...if it's a Desert Whipsnake... a lifer (and one of the few So Cal ones I have left)...if a Striped Racer... a possible range extension, and if an intergrade... noteworthy as well. I was surprised to find a dor Leopard Lizard there, as well... but, not that uncommon, from what Hansen said, that day, as i met him doing his annual survey of 9-mile. :) jim

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Re: Needing help

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 25th, 2014, 9:27 am

Monklet, Jim:
Species are where you find them --- which can be at odds with what is contained in the 'accepted' literature (field guides) and with 'expert' opinion.

The day I found the snakes in the unending series of outcrops just west of the S. Fork, Kern River (Stripped Racer, Mt. Kingsnake, Night Snakes), I had all such specimens in hand. So I am confident of my identification. But anecdotal accounts such as mine, cannot be accepted / reported as fact from a scientific point of view. Such accounts need verification either by having specimens vouchered or from photographic documentation.

As a hobbyist, I lack background in herpetology and knowledge of species' distributions. Otherwise, I would have held on to the Striped Racer that day. A number of times I have found species where I didn't think they should be, or where I have a hunch the area may represents a new locality record. I then debate with myself whether or not to retain such specimens.

An example is where I came across two slender salamanders in that same region of the S. Kern Plateau but about 2 - 3 miles east of the S. Fork, Kern River. I left the two salamander where they were despite being in rather unusual habitat. I believe after contacting Robert Hansen, he
indicated the species had been documented in that region. I would still be kicking myself if that had not been the case.

At any rate, all three of us, along with anyone else reading this thread, now knows they should retain any Striped Racer (M. lateralis) they catch on the S. Kern Plateau.

And speaking of Robert Hansen, as many of you may know, for about 30 years or more, he has been conducting a survey of reptiles that occur alive or dead on Nine-mile Canyon Road. Yet it only has been the last couple of years or so that he has now documented the Ringneck Snake as occurring in that region.

Richard F. Hoyer

P.S. In my reply of 5/24, at the end of the second paragraph the word should have been 'identification' and not 'indemnification'. I can blame 'spell check'.

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Re: Needing help

Post by Fundad » May 27th, 2014, 6:53 am

Image


Here is a taeniatus from up there found in 2012..


Fundad

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Re: Needing help

Post by Rothdigga » May 27th, 2014, 8:18 am

I found these Striped Racers rather easily in that same area 2-3 years ago. Since we're on the subject of Striped Racers that is.... found with Kevin Price and Nicholas/Robert. I think we saw 3 of them during a morning hike. This was nearby the South Fork of the Kern... I feel like we're talking about almost the same exact spot/trail Richard if I'm reading correct. There aren't a ton of places where you can be west of the S. Fork of the Kern. I've been there many times and enjoy that hike a lot.
ImageCalifornia Striped Racer (Coluber lateralis lateralis) by jrothdog, on Flickr

ImageCalifornia Striped Racer (Coluber lateralis lateralis) by jrothdog, on Flickr

ImageCalifornia Striped Racer (Coluber lateralis lateralis) by jrothdog, on Flickr

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Re: Needing help

Post by Fundad » May 27th, 2014, 10:42 am

naherp.com

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Re: Needing help

Post by Rothdigga » May 27th, 2014, 11:18 am

Fundad wrote:naherp.com
I think that Nicholas entered those if I'm not mistaken. He was the one who saw them first on our trail. I'll search it out though.
Looks like Robert got them in there from that trip.

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Re: Needing help

Post by Fieldnotes » May 27th, 2014, 11:37 am

Both lateralis and taeniatus occupy the Kern Plateau and Richard’s, Monklet’s and Rothdigga’s observations are evidence of this. I believe Robert Hansen mentioned this to me years ago, and he knows much about their presence there. Perhaps he will notice this post and respond. In northern California at Shasta County, there is another meeting point. Currently hybridization has not been recorded at either location.

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Re: Needing help

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 27th, 2014, 12:14 pm

As careful as I try to be in writing post, unintended errors crop up. In my 5/25 post, the third paragraph should read -- '2 - 3 miles west (not east) of the S. Fork, Kern River.'

Thanks to Rothdigga and Fundad for posting the photos of the two species from the same region. The similarities of the two species are obvious. But to me, the differences in striping are just as obvious and hence my original assertion of observing the Striped Racer in that region of the Southern Kern Plateau.

And Rothdigga, should you guys get back up that way, be sure to take along a Charina bottae witching stick so as to find a number of that species on the trail or under rocks, etc.

Richard F. Hoyer

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Re: Needing help

Post by Rothdigga » May 27th, 2014, 12:27 pm

Richard F. Hoyer wrote:As careful as I try to be in writing post, unintended errors crop up. In my 5/25 post, the third paragraph should read -- '2 - 3 miles west (not east) of the S. Fork, Kern River.'

Thanks to Rothdigga and Fundad for posting the photos of the two species from the same region. The similarities of the two species are obvious. But to me, the differences in striping are just as obvious and hence my original assertion of observing the Striped Racer in that region of the Southern Kern Plateau.

And Rothdigga, should you guys get back up that way, be sure to take along a Charina bottae witching stick so as to find a number of that species on the trail or under rocks, etc.

Richard F. Hoyer

Will do Richard. I was actually planning on trying to do a quick overnight trip to there in June sometime. It's a fun spot and I've been camping there for about 10+ years now. I can only imagine how dry that trail is to the river though, without any rain the pools must be non-existent this year. I'll let you know what I find.

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Re: Needing help

Post by Robert Hansen » May 27th, 2014, 6:15 pm

The first taeniatus was found on the Kern Plateau by me in 1982, and lateralis has been known from there prior to that. Mostly, taeniatus occurs at higher elevations (6000 to > 7000 ft elev) in pinyon-juniper-Jeffrey pine communities, with lateralis occupying lower elevations, sometimes in those same habitats but more often below the pinyon zone. Habitat is continuous along the S Fork Kern River, where you have taeniatus right at Kennedy Meadow on both sides of the river, downstream to Rockhouse Basin where lateralis occurs. I am sure there is range overlap along that corridor, but I've yet to find these species together. M. lateralis also occurs along the eastern (desert-facing) slopes of the southern Sierra, including the head of Ninemile Canyon (6200 ft), and taeniatus seems absent from this far south. Interestingly, there is an old specimen in the National Museum of Natural History (USNM 9498) collected in 1875 from Walker Basin, Kern Co. (an arid, high-elevation basin situated between Breckenridge Mt. and the Piute Mts). That is the only example of that species from Kern Co. Although Walker Basin is bordered by pinyon-juniper woodland (potentially okay habitat for this species), the area today seems to only harbor lateralis. I have examined the 1875 specimen and confirmed that it was correctly identified. Given that the present-day distribution of taeniatus in eastern California nicely tracks Pleistocene refugia, it's possible that the Walker Basin animal represented a population that blinked out with a warming climate over the past several hundred years.

If anyone has specific localities from the Kern Plateau and surrounding areas for either species, I'd welcome any information (email: [email protected]) for incorporation in ongoing research.

BH

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Re: Needing help

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » May 27th, 2014, 6:46 pm

Robert:
Thanks for the update on the history of the occurrence of the two species of whipsnakes on the S. Kern Plateau and beyond. If would seem that the range of the two species likely overlaps in the immediate vicinity of Kenney Meadows, at least on the west side of the S. Fork, Kern River.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Rothdigga:
My initial efforts on trying to acquire a sample of Charina bottae on the S. Kern Plateau began in 2002 and in the Fish Creek drainage. Until this year, Fish Cr. has been rather high when I have been there May and difficult to cross if it were not for some fallen trees. I had been told that the creek contained Golden Trout yet had not seen any fish in that creek in prior years due to high water.

This year, the creek is so low that I found several places where I could cross the creek on rocks. After conducting some searches on the south side this past May 12th., after two hours, I was running out of energy and headed back towards my pickup on the north side. When I approached the creek, I came to a deep hole and my presence spooked two trout, one I estimate at being about 12 - 13 inches and another about 9 - 10 inches.

After crossing, I then approached another shallower, elongated pool and saw about 5 - 6 smaller trout in the 5 - 8 inch range. So if indeed, those trout are Golden Trout, they are 'lifers' for me. Ever since grade school, my middle name has been 'fish'. For years, I explored Oregon testing all of the possibly trout stream and rivers I could access. So I am familiar with trout per se.

In recent years, I have purchased a 10 day, non-resident, Calif. fishing license but I have never brought along my fishing gear. My focus had been centered on acquiring data on samples of the Rubber Boa from various regions in S. Calif., and besides, I do not know if current regulations allow fishing for Golden Trout in that region. Perhaps next year I might do a little planning ahead of time and bring my fly fishing gear.

Hears hoping you have some success the next time you travel to the S. Kern Plateau.

Richard F. Hoyer

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Re: Needing help

Post by RobertH » May 27th, 2014, 8:50 pm

I think that Nicholas entered those if I'm not mistaken. He was the one who saw them first on our trail. I'll search it out though.
Looks like Robert got them in there from that trip.
Here are our two c. lateralis entries from that trip:

http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=115634

http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=115633

The elevation for both snakes was about 5100 feet.

To my eye, both snakes look to be c. lateralis, and that's how I entered them into the database back then. But who knows.

If there is a chance that they are in fact c. taeniatus, please let me know. Thanks.

Robert

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Re: Needing help

Post by Carl Brune » May 28th, 2014, 3:31 am

On the subject of identification, does anyone care to take a stab at this one:

Image

It's a DOR from the area under discussion. I id'd it at the time as lateralis, but unfortunately this is the only photo I took...

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Re: Needing help

Post by Fundad » May 28th, 2014, 6:34 am

Robert, Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the area with us.

I emailed you my lone taeniatus observation from the area.

Also if you are interested in all of our data from the area, we would be honored to share it with you. (I am sure our data is small compared to your data from the area). All we have to do is set up a small request for it, fairly simple to do. We could even do it on a semi annual basis or something?

If your interested let me know, and I will help set it up?


About 15 years ago I found a longnose under a tin in the Walker Valley, but Brad and I didn't see much outside of that, except for a couple gophersnakes.

Fundad

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Re: Needing help

Post by regalringneck » May 28th, 2014, 6:54 am

Interesting twist to this thread & one ive pondered too; lateralis / taeniatus.
Carls DoR gives me an "intergrade impression". It'd be an interesting thread to delineate where in Ca these 2 are sympatric.
I have little doubt they are sibling sps. and are more closely related to each other than the other Masticophids.
Interesting too is Roberts comment that the whipsnakes lived higher than the racers, as the former do well in the higher deserts whereas lateralis does not, & thus I would think taeniatus operates at a higher body T.
Here in Az, taeniatus can occasionally be found sympatrically w/ bilineatus (w/no hybriding) and our regular coachwhips. In a few places all 3 exist alongside patchnoses; i think those places are known to whiptails as "lizard hell". Taeniatus also range higher in the mtns. here (~ 6 K) as long as its a dry open forest ... which sadly we seem to be getting more & more of ... every friggn year! Richard you might want to get after those goldens this year ... next year there may be nothing left but an arroyo!

Image

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Re: Needing help

Post by hellihooks » May 28th, 2014, 7:09 am

Robert,
do you need only vouchered sightings? I'm 95% certain that what I flipped twice, under the same 4X8 ply was lateralis, and can pin down gps. At the time, I thought the only difference was the width of the lateral stripes... now that I see that the lateral stripe is broken/intersected...I know I have yet to see a Desert Whip. all the more reason for me to return, hopefully 2 weekends from now. Anybody up for it? jim

edit...should say...I have yet to see a desert whip, in the field...this MNP whip was lent to me, for my herp ed talks, by Myke C. several years ago. Makes me want to say your's is a desert whip, Carl.
Image

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Re: Needing help

Post by yoloherper » May 28th, 2014, 11:53 am

I id'd it at the time as lateralis

You got it

-Elliot

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Re: Needing help

Post by Robert Hansen » May 28th, 2014, 5:15 pm

Robert Hess: Your snakes are correctly ID'd as lateralis, and at the elevation you found them, you are well below the lowest elevation for taeniatus in that area.

Carl: Your snake is also correctly ID'd as lateralis.

Here are some pics of both species from just a few miles apart. Aside from the obvious differences in stripe configuration, notice that lateralis has a largely unicolored crown--the head scales lack any light ornamentation at the edges typical of taeniatus. However, the degree of light scale edging can vary, as illustrated by the snake in the whole body shot below.
Image

Image

Image

Image

There is no evidence of hybridization in the areas where their ranges approach (and potentially overlap). All specimens seen to date are readily diagnosed as one species or the other.

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Re: Needing help

Post by hellihooks » May 29th, 2014, 10:05 am

thank you Robert... very helpful... :thumb: Can you use my unvouchered (but now certain) lateralis sighting? jim

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Re: Needing help

Post by Robert Hansen » May 29th, 2014, 12:49 pm

Jim:

Yes, it would be nice to have info on your lateralis record. You can email me at [email protected].

Thanks.

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Re: Needing help

Post by hellihooks » May 29th, 2014, 4:13 pm

OK...will do. In the meanwhile, might I ask you to comment on what I believe may be a new desert-phase helleri locale?
http://www.naherp.com/viewrecord.php?r_id=188569
Thx... jim

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Re: Needing help

Post by Robert Hansen » May 29th, 2014, 10:26 pm

Jim: thanks for any forthcoming info. As for your desert phase helleri, I really don't have much experience with that area but would be really surprised if helleri naturally occurred near Indio. That's some serious low, hot desert, lacking any major drainages or other corridors that would allow animals to move from higher elevation. But maybe there is somebody who has worked that area in a concerted way for many years and who could offer something based on knowledge and experience instead of my speculation. Good luck on resolving that mystery.

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Re: Needing help

Post by hellihooks » May 30th, 2014, 4:59 am

Thank you...I'll check with Bill Hayes... he's big into helli. they were found right along the Coachella canal... perhaps that is a mitigating factor allowing helleri to survive there... :?

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