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Conservation genetics of the endangered Alameda whipsnake

Photo of M.l euryxanthus showing distinctive characteristics --Photographer: Gary Nafis
The Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus) is both a federally and state listed endangered species limited to scrub and chaparral habitat within Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, CA. Loss and fragmentation of habitat due to agricultural and urban development over the last 100 years are cited as the main causes of its decline. Based on historic and current collection data, Alameda whipsnakes were grouped into 5 recovery units connected with two linkage corridors in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service draft recovery plan. However, the population genetic structure among and within these units has never been determined. We are developing and analyzing sensitive genetic markers (microsatellites) to determine recent patterns of population divergence among and within recovery units of this species and to determine whether designated corridors are adequate to promote dispersal and gene flow, and maintain genetic integrity across the sub-species range.  We are also evaluating the phylogenetic structure of Masticophis lateralis as a whole using mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data.

USGS Contact For This Project
Amy Vandergast
(619) 225-6445
San Diego Field Station
4165 Spruance Road Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101
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