Range extensions in Marin?

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Kookamongus
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Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 25th, 2018, 6:25 pm

I’m new to the forum so figured I’d post my first topic about range extensions in Marin. I herp mainly in Marin county ca and surrounding Bay Area. I’m wondering what you guys think about possible range extensions into this county ie zonata, masticophis, hypsiglena, Black salamanders. I’ve seen a striped racer here once many years ago, though I didn’t have a camera and I was rather far away. I really was pissed at myself for not getting a pic because it would, to my knowledge, be a county record! It was found in a pile of rocks around a pipe, accompanied by a duo of norpacs. What do you think about range extensions in Marin? Could mount Tamalpais possibly hold isolated populations of zonata? East Marin grasslands might hold hypsiglena and more lateralis, and maybe Muir Woods for black salamanders?

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » September 25th, 2018, 8:28 pm

Another possibility is documenting the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake in the more shaded, forested areas in Marin County. The species occurs in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties to the south and then north of Marin Co along the coast just above Fort Ross Park in Sonoma Co.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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Kookamongus
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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 26th, 2018, 7:30 am

Richard F. Hoyer wrote:Another possibility is documenting the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake in the more shaded, forested areas in Marin County. The species occurs in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties to the south and then north of Marin Co along the coast just above Fort Ross Park in Sonoma Co.

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)
That’s true, I’ve seen lots of sharptails that superficially resembled forests, but never examined the underside

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » September 26th, 2018, 1:05 pm

In the early 2000’s, I examined all vouchered specimens from Marin Co. and all were the Common Sharp-tailed Snake, Contia tenuis. That species occurs on both the eastern and western sides Marin County. I once visited individuals that lived just outside of Bolinas on the coastal side who had the Common Sharp-tailed Snake on their property.

I cross a highway from the 101 freeway west across northern Marin Co. to the coast and recall observing coniferous forested regions, with I believe some Red-wood trees, that looked suitable to harbor the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake. So the species may be there but just never recognized or vouchered. The two species are so darn similar that they were overlooked for over 100 years by a fair number of herpetologists.

Counting the caudals is the best way to differentiate the two species. Any specimen, male or female, that possesses 43 or more caudal on one side to the tail (caudals are split in both species), would be a Forest Sharp-tailed Snake. There were a few C. tenuis males in Tulare Co. at high elevation in the southern Sierra’s with caudal counts in the low 40’s with a high of 43. But none of the run of mill C. tenuis males elsewhere in Calif. possessed counts that high. And the lowest count for a Forest Sharp-tailed Snake female was 43. The range of caudal counts of females in both species is lower than males of both species. So you really couldn’t go wrong in being able to identifying one species from the other in Marin Co.

Richard FH

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 26th, 2018, 1:52 pm

great points, even if forest sharptails were in marin they probably have not been recorded yet. Another spot that might be good is the ridge behind kent lake, which is mainly dry redwood and tanoak forest. sharptails are very common here so i wouldn't be surprised if there were some isolated populations
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heres some sharptails found in a coastal marsh under a piece of sheet metal, Marin county

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Kookamongus
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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 26th, 2018, 1:56 pm

also according to cal herps the species ranges into northern marin but no records yet, maybe ill set a board line somewhere up there i got no plans this weekend

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by yoloherper » September 26th, 2018, 5:01 pm

Here is an old fhf post from the former california forum where we discussed possible county records, and records missing from the naherp datase, for many counties across california. Marin is included partway down the page and a number of other replies adress additional species in marin.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3543
As winter approaches, another possible target you could look for would be tiger salamanders. A seemingly credible report occured withing a quarter mile of the marin county line, although any possible associated population in marin or directly adjacent sonoma cos. would be on private property. It could be possible to road cruise a wandering individual as they approach breeding ponds on rainy nights in late fall/early winter, or leave during similar conditions in late winter.
I'm also curious what part of the county you observed a whipsnake in? I've never spent a ton of time herping that county, but did a bunch of field work at open space preserves across the county a few summers back and a few areas I saw looked pretty good for them.
-Elliot

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Kookamongus
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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 26th, 2018, 5:47 pm

the whipsnake was seen in a pile of rocks over a plastic pipe, in the central region of marin, grassy, hilly, and bone dry. About 11 am, clear sky with no wind, date was sometime in may 2018. I have returned to the pile in hopes of finding it again but never have.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by DOR » September 27th, 2018, 5:11 pm

That "whipsnake" was likely a miss identified garter snake. I saw aliens when i was 14 and didn't have a camera handy. Bummer for both of us.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 27th, 2018, 5:34 pm

im fairly certain it was a whipsnake, pointed snout, black and white thin lines on the sides, very thin, big eyes. Although no photos were taken, so no way to confirm. im sure one of these days one will turn up for certain

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by BillMcGighan » September 28th, 2018, 5:02 am

OP (I can't bring myself to call you "Kook" :lol: :lol: )

Documenting range extensions is a really noble cause and many of us encourage you. Good on you.
:thumb:

Looking back at 50+ years of field guides, the range maps generally get better and better and drift away from political boundaries to natural boundaries. Having credible folks like Richard and Elliot mention the possibility should be encouragement.

I once found a true and radical range extension of a diminutive eastern snake, similar to your western Sharptails, in the ‘70s that was 50 miles out of existing range maps; no voucher. Its memory has haunted me since then!

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 28th, 2018, 8:40 am

haha thanks. With the coming rains probably ambystoma will be out and some of the northern marin regions could hold them

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Zach_Lim » September 30th, 2018, 3:49 pm

I've found myself herping more and more (hiking rather) in marin county as of late. Lateralis would be very amazing to see just north of SF.

As Elliot mentioned, Tigers would be a noble species to look for. I have heard of anecdotal reports of Taricha rivularis in northern Marin County, as well.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by FunkyRes » September 30th, 2018, 7:43 pm

Sometimes people release fire-bellied newts which could easily confused for red-bellied.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » September 30th, 2018, 8:48 pm

Do rivularis prefer warmer and deeper water like torosa or cooler shallow water like granulosa?

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Jimi » October 1st, 2018, 11:24 am

Do rivularis prefer warmer and deeper water like torosa or cooler shallow water like granulosa?
IME the last 2 are more alike, than either is like rivularis. Its name says it all - flowing water. Which in its range, is naturally pretty cold. I've seen plenty in and around small creeks, but also in and around the mainstem rivers and their principal forks, in the 3 counties to the north. The main distinction, in my memory (with all the caveats required...), is topographic position - I wouldn't bother way up in the watersheds, I'd head for the mainstems, or the tribs just off the valley bottoms. You want perennial, not seasonal or ephemeral. That's what sticks out in my mind - I mainly saw them in/adjacent to salmonid rearing streams (whether current, or just historic). They can't breed in the tiny stuff that sometimes dries up, I think. And I don't think their larvae burrow way down in wet gravel, like e.g. torrent sallies or some other plethodontids. When hunting (digging for...) those guys, I don't recall kicking up any newt larvae. Newts are well-defended, they don't need to avoid fish.

You might head up to around Guerneville or Jenner (or even farther, like Ft Bragg) to familiarize yourself with them, and to optimize the timing for your searches. When you get into them, their abundances can be pretty unreal. And like for most sallies, the crappier the weather, the better the hunting. Get out your fleece, your merino, your gore-tex. Ha ha ha...

Good luck!

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by FunkyRes » October 2nd, 2018, 4:23 am

Interesting. Don't have a reference, but I seem to recall on a phylogenetic tree, red-bellied are closer to rough-skinned than they are to california.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by jonathan » October 2nd, 2018, 9:00 am

Jimi wrote:
Do rivularis prefer warmer and deeper water like torosa or cooler shallow water like granulosa?
IME the last 2 are more alike, than either is like rivularis. Its name says it all - flowing water. Which in its range, is naturally pretty cold. I've seen plenty in and around small creeks, but also in and around the mainstem rivers and their principal forks, in the 3 counties to the north. The main distinction, in my memory (with all the caveats required...), is topographic position - I wouldn't bother way up in the watersheds, I'd head for the mainstems, or the tribs just off the valley bottoms. You want perennial, not seasonal or ephemeral. That's what sticks out in my mind - I mainly saw them in/adjacent to salmonid rearing streams (whether current, or just historic). They can't breed in the tiny stuff that sometimes dries up, I think. And I don't think their larvae burrow way down in wet gravel, like e.g. torrent sallies or some other plethodontids. When hunting (digging for...) those guys, I don't recall kicking up any newt larvae. Newts are well-defended, they don't need to avoid fish.

You might head up to around Guerneville or Jenner (or even farther, like Ft Bragg) to familiarize yourself with them, and to optimize the timing for your searches. When you get into them, their abundances can be pretty unreal. And like for most sallies, the crappier the weather, the better the hunting. Get out your fleece, your merino, your gore-tex. Ha ha ha...

Good luck!
FunkyRes wrote:Interesting. Don't have a reference, but I seem to recall on a phylogenetic tree, red-bellied are closer to rough-skinned than they are to california.
That being said, I've found rivularis and torosa literally crawling over each other before. Though in that case it was indeed flowing water (which is all I've ever found torosa in).

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Jimi » October 2nd, 2018, 10:08 am

on a phylogenetic tree, red-bellied are closer to rough-skinned than they are to california.
That may well be the case. I was speaking of "upon presentation" however - of field encounters and gross characterization. The other 2 newts are just "harder to tell apart", phenotypically of course but also ecologically - for me anyway.

A similar statement could be made with, for example, mountain lions, leopards and cheetahs. To me, cheetahs are the outlier, upon presentation. However, I am told they are much closer "on the tree" to Felis than they are to Panthera.

Anyway back towards the original question. Marin is a little weird, for coastal NorCal. (It feels more Central Coast or East Bay, to me, honestly.) All its creeks are really small, their watersheds were - & remain - intensively cleared for livestock grazing, and there are lots of in-channel impoundments. I don't think of this as a great state of affairs for rivularis; even if they occurred there historically, I think it would make them harder to find today. But it's definitely still a great project to look for them, and I respect and support the idea.

cheers

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Chad M. Lane » October 3rd, 2018, 1:01 pm

There is a sight record, photo shown to Mitch Mulks? of a zonata found in the vicinity of Mt. Tam however no confirmed record as of yet.

Marin is a weird county geographically containing many different types of habitats, where many species should be present but appear absent.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by FunkyRes » October 4th, 2018, 12:21 am

jonathan wrote:
Jimi wrote:
Do rivularis prefer warmer and deeper water like torosa or cooler shallow water like granulosa?
Though in that case it was indeed flowing water (which is all I've ever found torosa in).
Torosa can still be found in the standing water of Tilden Regional Park, and historically (80s) I found them in the still water of swamp that is now housing in San Mateo County and a pond that is now filled in at Alliance Redwoods (near Jenner but inland a bit)

Interestingly my only experience with granulosa in the wild is well over 1000 feet elevation. Okay maybe not interesting. But... ;)

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by rosyboakid » January 5th, 2019, 10:25 am

I was perusing iNat this morning and came across an observation made me think of this thread: a striped racer in Marin County, Tomales Bay State Park to be exact . https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19438694.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by yoloherper » January 6th, 2019, 11:37 am

Looks like the poster has changed the location from Marin to San Benito County on that iNat record. Likely had just selected the wrong spot the first time around, as Tomales Bay State Park, or really anywhere on the Point Reyes Peninsula would be much too wet and forested for whipsnakes. If they are hidden somewhere in Marin, they're going to be much further inland, where the chamise dominated chaparral really picks up and the coastal fog doesn't have as much impact.
-Elliot

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Jimi » January 7th, 2019, 5:24 pm

anywhere on the Point Reyes Peninsula would be much too wet and forested for whipsnakes
Agreed - in its middle and south latitudes the brushy windward side is super damp, and the sunnier leeward side is pretty timbered. The cleared grassy north is way too soggy. All of it's mostly chilly - either a clammy foggy chill, or a sunny cold-wind chill. Best chances of a nice snakey day cover about 6 weeks of 9/1 - 10/15. In short, the lovely PRP is classic garter/sharptail/boa country, not whipsnake/gopher/rattler country. Whereas SBC - e.g. the also-lovely Pinnacles NP - is definitely on the sunnier toastier end of the spectrum.

He probably just fixed his original locational error.

cheers

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Zach_Lim » January 8th, 2019, 9:14 pm

Species that I have personally seen in Marin county:

Snakes-

California Kingsnake
Coast Garter
Aquatic Garter
CA Red-sided Garter
Northern Rubber Boa
Common Sharp-tailed
Pacific Gopher Snake
Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
Pacific Ring-necked
WYB Racer

Lizards-

Coast range Fence
SF Alligator
Skilton's Skink

Salamander-

Ensatina
CA Slender
CA Newt
Rough skin newt
Arboreal
CA Giant

Frogs

Foothill Yellow-legged
CA Red-legged
Sierran Tree Frog
Bullfrog
CA Toad (maybe? not too sure without looking at records)

Turtles

Western Pond
Slider

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » March 26th, 2019, 6:24 pm

An update,

After performing scale counts on contia from several populations in Marin county, I found that only tenuis are found here, even in supposed longicaudae range just south of Bodega bay. Interestingly, while the northern populations had only 38, 32, and 36 caudals per locale, some of the southern populations had over 40. One locale in a coastal marsh, right near San Quentin, had an individual I counted 41 scales on. I'm not sure if more scales means more related to the other species or not, but if it does, it would be strange to think the ones in the complete opposite habitat and range would be more related to longicaudae.

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Scott Waters » March 27th, 2019, 11:54 am

Great update. I’d love to work on the contia and lateralis in Marin with you. Shoot me an email. I’m close by. :)

Scott

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Kookamongus » April 24th, 2019, 1:06 pm

Update 2: An unexpected possible new range extension HAS been found. I'm having trouble linking photos, but I've found a very interesting looking skink. It shows characteristics of both western and Gilbert's skinks, and has 8 labials. Definitely not what I expected to find, I have photos if anyone can direct me to any websites that are good for formatting?

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Re: Range extensions in Marin?

Post by Richard F. Hoyer » April 25th, 2019, 9:36 am

Kookamongus,
I had overlooked your post relating to the Sharp-tailed Snake in Marin County. The following is a clarification with respect to the two species of Contia.

With respect to distribution, the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake has been documented in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties in the West Bay area. If there is any suitable habitat still remaining in San Francisco County, it may occur there. North of S.F., the furthest south the species has been documented is in Sonoma County just north of Fort Ross St. Park.

All of the vouchered specimens I examined from Marin County were of the Common Sharp-tailed Snake, Contia tenuis.

I once traveled from Hwy. 101 west over to Bolinas. Along that road, I viewed some forested habitat that was very similar to where I had originally discovered the new species in July of 1998 along Hwy. 128 in Mendocino County. Hence I have theorized that the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake may occur in Marin County.

As for identifying the two species, that can be done via counting the caudals. At this point in time, there is no overlap between the two species PROVIDED one compares males vs. males and females vs. females. It is thus important for individuals to be able to identify males vs. females which can pose a problem for some individuals.

In the paper by myself and Dr. Feldman that formally describes the new species of Contia, the following are the range of caudal counts for males and females of both species. Note there is no overlap between the two species when the sexes are compared separately.

C. tenuis: males: 28 –43 (n = 559) females: 24 – 38 (n = 481)
C. longicaudae: males: 48 – 58 (n = 67) females: 43 – 52 (n = 58)

Richard F. Hoyer (Corvallis, Oregon)

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