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 Post subject: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: November 30th, 2018, 8:30 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
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In Lawrence Klauber’s 1943 paper where he described the new subspecies, Charina bottae umbratica, Southern Rubber Boa, he mentioned that the Rubber Boa had not been found in the Coast Range south of Carmel nor south of Sequoia Nat. Park in the Sierras.

I have prepared a draft of some of my finding on the Rubber Boa and am having help from two professionals. One of those persons asked me to cite references where the species had been documented south of Carmel, south of Sequoia National Park, and other localities where we know the species occurs in southern California. I have pretty much found the citations for most localities but not south of Carmel.

The only reference I have is that in the mtDNA study published by Javier Rodriguez-Robles and others, Javier tested tissue from a boa found on Hwy 1 twelve miles north of Nacimiento Road. That specimen is on deposit at the MVZ, UC Berkeley.

It is my vague recollection that perhaps one or more individuals on this forum reported sighting of boas somewhere south of Carmel. I recall viewing a photograph someone posted. So if anyone can recall such post or posts, or anyone has found boas in Monterey County in the mountain range south of Carmel, please let me know either here on the forum or by email. Thanks for your help.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon [email protected].)


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: November 30th, 2018, 10:52 pm 
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E-mail sent.


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 1st, 2018, 1:24 pm 
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Hey Richard,

I found the MVZ specimen from HW1 And gave it to Rick Staub, who deposited it in the Museum. It was an adult DOR from very close to the ocean in coastal sage scrub. I have found them about 10 miles South of Carmel as well, but none in between those areas or further South. I am sure their range is much broader in the Santa Lucia range, but I used to live near there and have spent a ton of time in the field there without additional boa sightings.

FH


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 2nd, 2018, 9:56 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
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FH
Am I correct that the DOR boa was found in about 1999 or 2000? I had barrowed all of the MVZ vouchered boas at around 2000 and that specimen wasn’t amongst them. So if found and donated in 1999 or 2000, the specimen had yet to be processed and placed with the other vouchered boas at the MVZ.

Besides your sighting south of Carmel, the individual that posted ahead of you sent me a message indicating he observed a boa on a road about (my estimate) 10 – 15 miles south of Carmel. And in searching my folder on boa localities in Calif., three boas were observed near the USGS field Station in the Big Sur region which I believe is about 50 miles south of Carmel. Should suitable habitat occur the length of the Santa Lucia Range, in all likelihood, the boa occurs about the entire length of those mountains. It has been documented further south at Montana de Oro State Park in San Luis Opbispo Co.

As for your remark about not coming across the Rubber Boa despite spending much time in the field, that scenario is a perfect description of my experience here in Oregon. It is the exact experience of many in the professional herpetology community that produced the perception that the Rubber Boa was rare. Through high school, college, and after returning to Oregon after serving in the USAF, despite frequently herping and having observed all other native species of snakes, I had never encountered a Rubber Boa.

Then in 1965, I decided to conduct research on the species yet during that year and the following year, 1966, despite concentrated searching efforts, I failed to find a single boa. Finally, in 1967, I found my first Rubber Boa and then began finding them with increased regularity thereafter. So one might ask, why the change in ‘luck’.

The conventional wisdom for finding snakes (here in the west at least) is to make searches during warm, sunny conditions during the spring and summer. When I began making searches when it was overcast or partly overcast, with temperatures in the 60’s down into the 50’s, and earlier in the year, March and even Feb. and Jan., that is when my ‘luck’ changed. Since 1967, I estimate I have recorded data on between 3500 – 4000 or more rare Rubber Boas and many thousand more recaptures. My ‘luck’ was also enhanced by my purposeful deployment of artificial cover.

The lesson to be learned it that it is the encountering of some species, like the Rubber Boa, that is rare and not the species being numerically rare. There is an excellent published scientific paper by J. Whitfield Gibbons on that very issue I can cite if anyone is interested.

Richard F. Hoyer


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 2nd, 2018, 8:11 pm 
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Richard,

I completely understand what you are saying about the idea of the "rarity" of snakes. VERY few reptiles are actually "rare." I have herped all over the U.S. and have found many "rare" species, and often in numbers. Many reptiles, but especially snakes, are secretive. Rubber boas, in particular, are highly fossorial, secretive, and preferentially nocturnal. It is my personal belief that rubber boas exist throughout the entire Santa Lucia range, but are spotty and most common near the coast, in the canyons, or at high elevation. The range reaches 6,000ft in elevation at maximum, but there are several peaks above 3,000 feet. The further inland you go, the drier and hotter it gets.

Growing up in Monterey County, it was always my dream to find zonata there. When I was finally old enough to drive and explore on my own, I made this my goal. With a great deal of trial and error (In the days before the internet), I was able to figure out zonata in the range. I have found many zonata there from the coast to high elevation, but only comparatively few rubber boas. The zonata like it slightly warmer than the boas do. Of course, they can be found together, but the boas prefer more fog/moisture, and cooler temperatures. Just one mountain range North in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the boas and zonata are both more sympatric and seem more common. Further South, in the Santa Lucias, zonata predominate over boas, but are still much harder to find than in the Santa Cruz Mtns. In the Santa Lucias, you can find longnose snakes, night snakes, and CA kingsnakes with much greater frequency that further North. Longnose snakes don't even occur in proximity to the Santa Cruz mountains.

I think, in summary, that boas likely occur throughout the coastal Santa Lucias, but the further South you go, the more closely tied to the coastal fog belt they are. In SLO county, in Montana de Oro, they are found right on the coast where it is cool and benefits from fog (although I have never even been there.) They are not likely found in the eastern portion of the Santa Lucias.

FH


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 3rd, 2018, 8:49 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
Posts: 523
FH,
I concur with your views as they pretty much match my understanding.

The environmental constraints that govern the distributions of species mostly go unknown. For the Rubber Boa, I have surmised there exists some minimum level of available moisture that is critical for its survival. As the species distribution extends southward in the interior regions, the species tends to occur at higher and higher minimum elevations.

And along the near coastal regions, the species’ distribution likely occurs closer and closer to the coast the further south thus occurring in more protected, shaded habitats and riparian corridors. Eventually, the environmental conditions necessary for survival become marginal, the species distribution become more constricted. And eventually, the conditions necessary for survival peter out. As as of now, it appears that the last vestiges of habitat where the species is able to exist along the coast is at Montana de Oro State Park.

That being said, it would not surprise me if the overall density of the species in the Santa Lucia Range is lower than what occurs in many other regions in the species' distribution.

Question: Did you ever conduct searches for snakes in those mountains during the month of Feb. and into March during sunny conditions and when temperatures were in the upper 50’s and into the low to mid 60’s?

If I weren’t so darn old and not having a great deal of stamina, I would be very tempted to come south during March to 1), try to make some searches in Monterey County and 2), record estimated coordinates for where the boa has been observed south of Carmel.

Earlier today, I examined the printout I received from CAS back in about 2000. They once had 5 vouchered boas from Monterey County and all were from Carmel. Three of those vouchers were lost during the 2006 SF earthquake and fire. So I as able to record data on only two specimens from that county.

Richard FH


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 4th, 2018, 9:43 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
Posts: 523
Correction: That should have been 1906 earthquake and fire in S.F.


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 4th, 2018, 1:25 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Quote:
I have surmised there exists some minimum level of available moisture that is critical for its survival.


I would add to, or complicate that statement with, timing and duration components. That is, the moisture needs to be available for long enough, and at the right time of year, for the animals to get their business done. Annual averages aren't going to be much help, except for absolutely negating some areas. For example, a lot of the species' eastern distribution is dry as hell, but there's a long-enough chilly, muddy spring to "pull off a crop" frequently enough to have an enduring population.

This is where my earlier question about plasticity in life-history parameters came from. To illustrate, I think boas living in e.g. coastal NorCal have at least 9 months a year to be active (I found them on the crawl from Feb/Mar through Oct/Nov, including all the rainless but foggy summer months). I suspect they can grow fast and have more young more often in such friendly climes. Whereas boas living around Elko might have just 3-4 months per year to be active, between the freezing and the drying times. Do they produce the same size and number of young per litter, but less than half as often?

And to complete the example, boas (imaginary ones...) at Point Loma might enjoy only say 2 months (Jan, Feb) to be active - perhaps enough to persist as slim individuals, but not long enough to endure as a population, in the long haul.

Just some notions I play with in my head anyway. Biogeography colliding with cryptic behavior makes for some real puzzles...


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 4th, 2018, 10:17 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
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Jimi,
Your points are understood. I have surmised (guessing) that both surface and subsurface humidity likely are important factors as well as condensation.
I have found boas on cool mornings with tiny bead of water on their body due to condensation. And I have wondered if snakes (lizards) have some mechanism that allows them to filter suspended moisture in the air so as to remain hydrated.

I agree that the boa at higher elevations have shorter active seasons than populations at lower elevations. The manuscript now being reviewed and edited by two other gentlemen will have data that indicates the boa population in the mountains of SW Oregon (5000 + ft.) are smaller and have smaller neonates than the boa population here in the Willamette Valley and foothills.

I suspect the boas in all higher elevations, such as those in the Ruby Mts. SE of Elko, do have a reduced active seasons. But such seasons are likely only reduced by about 5 – 7 weeks. Keep in mind that this species (males) sometimes come to the surface in February with snow nearby when there occurs periods of sunshine and temperatures in 50’s and above.

And I believe boas at higher elevations do have somewhat smaller litters on the average. As for you mentioning biogeography, it is the fact that the species occurs in such a wide range of habitat types throughout its distribution that suggested to me the species simply could not be numerically rare.

Richard


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 7th, 2018, 10:27 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
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Found another example of the Rubber Boa occurring south of Carmel in the Coast Range. Burger, L.W. Herpetologica, Vol.8, Part 1, March 22,1952 "A Southern-most Coast Range Locality For CHARINA BOTTAE"

The author states he found a large female in Bixby Canyon about 20 miles SE of Monterey.

Richard FH


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 11th, 2018, 10:52 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
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FH,
I now have four sightings of the Rubber Boa in the Santa Lucia Range south of Carmel. Beside the DOR on Hwy. 1 you found, there is a 1952 note in Herpetologica of a boa being observed in Bixby Canyon, a boa observed on Palo Colorado Rd., and three boas observed near a USGS Field Station.

What is missing on all such observations are more specific locality information. So I have considered the possibility of traveling to that region sometime next spring to record approximate coordinates and elevations for those sightings. Besides the DOR boa you found on Hwy. 1, you mentioned having observed boas about 10 miles south of Carmel as well. Can you provide me with localities and directions so I might be able to record the coordinates for those observations as well?

My email address is the scientific name of the rubber boa all in lower case with no space between genus and species name, at earthlink.net

Richard F. Hoyer


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 12th, 2018, 7:16 am 
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Richard,

I'll send you a PM.

FH


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 Post subject: Re: Rubber Boas in Monterey County
PostPosted: December 15th, 2018, 12:49 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:14 pm
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Mitch Mulks may have information pertaining to boas in Monterey County. The last two e-mail addresses I had for Mitch aare no longer in use.

If anyone knows of Mitch's where abouts, could you please contact hin and ask him to get in touch with me.

Thanks. Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)


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