And what happened in the Cedars?
The usual - we got several each of gophers, rattlesnakes, etc, and no Lampropeltis
. We spent a day with good weather and found some good rocks, hillsides, and whole canyons for flipping, and then it turned cold (low 50s at best) and rainy and so we just used the next day to scout places to hunt later. But that's how it goes when what you're trying to do is find critters somewhere they've never been found - either they really don't occur there, or they aren't so easy to find (or else they probably already would have been). One of the cool things about Utah, from my perspective, is that there's still a lot of country that really hasn't been investigated much at all yet. There's still a lot of discoveries possible, and they might not even be all that hard to make - you just have to get out there at the right time. I really wish more people would get out and give it a shot - and then accurately & completely report their finds in HERP. Even if they feel the need for maximal privacy settings.
the real difference is between a New Mexico and Utah Milk
The recent paper from the Pyron/Burbrink lab, which I'm sure you're read but I don't yet have your take on it, lumped all western milks into a new species, Lampropeltis gentilis
(gentilis being the senior name (1850's?) among the 4 former subspecies, and taylori being the absolute junior (1960's?)). The authors didn't talk much if any about clades or haplotypes - let alone subspecies
, a concept that is not alive and well
among modern systematists - within each of their elevated species (I recall there being 7 new species created out of the mess formerly known as "Lampropeltis triangulum
" - gentilis being just one). But they did take pains to point out, naming kingsnakes solely by appearance does not help further understanding of their actual relatedness. Actual relatedness is the point of the scientific names. Hobbyists can do whatever they like, and they/we do.
So yeah, among the 17 milks found last month in that formerly virtually-unknown area, to my (not-so-lampro-oriented) eye one could pull out phenotypic
subspecies (perhaps now best referred to as color/pattern morphs) "taylori", "celaenops", "gentilis", and maybe even a pyro or two. Pretty funny huh? There was a TON of variation in appearance, which I find super appealing for whatever reason. You're pretty much the man when it comes to milks, rangewide - have you seen places in Kansas or New Mexico or wherever, that also have multiple "subspecies" pattern morphs present? Also, I don't think the 5 that Mark and I found got into HERP yet - I will ask Mark about it, he collected data & shot pics while I just flipped. I can send you the pics he texted me afterwards, if it looks like it'll be a while before HERP gets the records. Or the single record - it was just one little tiny spot after all.
Finally, I'm relieved to hear about your book. As in, it isn't a dead project. Is that right?
but that might be new and different, and exciting...
Heck, it might actually simplify the layout and formatting of the book - less work! And, give you something interesting & educational to talk about, without having to do a lot of awkward hand waving about why the breadth of variation within a single
former subspecies exceeds the breadth of variation among several former subspecies.