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A secretive snake in a secret desert: Preliminary genetic findings for the California glossy snake, Arizona elegans occidentalis in the San Joaquin Desert

Released: 2015
Citation:
Westphal, M, D Wood, J Richmond, B Hollingsworth, R Fisher, A Vandergast. 2015. A secretive snake in a secret desert:  Preliminary genetic findings for the California glossy snake, Arizona elegans occidentalis in the San Joaquin Desert. American Society of Icthyologists and Herpetologists, Reno, Nevada. 15-19 July 2015. [presentation]

The San Joaquin Desert is a newly recognized xeric region of the southern Central Valley of California occupied with numerous species closely affined to Mojave forms.  Due to the region’s high natural endemism, and thanks to ongoing and massive conversion of habitat to agriculture, oil development, and now solar development, the San Joaquin Desert continues to harbor the highest concentration of endangered species in the continental United States.  The California glossy snake, Arizona elegans occidentalis, is a Mojave-affined species occupying a narrow strip of xeric habitat along the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, and is closely sympatric with a number of endangered species, including the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Gambelia sila.  With a range even more restricted than that of Gambelia, A. e. occidentalis may be under extreme threat from ongoing habitat conversion.  However, little is known about patterns of gene flow and subpopulation division along its narrow peninsula of habitat.  Knowledge of these patterns is crucial to the protection of the species.  We therefore conducted a molecular study to obtain preliminary data on population subdivision within the San Joaquin Valley, and among subspecies of A. elegans across the Southwest.
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