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Posted by oldherper on April 03, 2003 at 08:10:17:
In Reply to: Re: Example of black pine w/ lots of pattern. posted by herpsc on April 03, 2003 at 07:16:12:
Yep, he's pretty typical of the intergrades I saw from that area, which is pretty much the easternmost limit (Escambia and Baldwin counties)of the lodingi range. Beautiful animal. One of my old herping buddies, a guy by the name of Tommy Yarbrough (now unfortunately deceased) knew as much about these animals (lodingi, mugitus, melanoleucus)as anybody except maybe Bob Mount from Auburn University's Biology Department. Tommy wasn't a college educated herpetologist, but had as much field experience and practical knowledge of the natural history of herpetofauna of the southern U.S. as anybody I ever met. He was an old-timer to me then (25 or 30 years ago), and I learned a load of stuff from him about field collecting and the captive husbandry of reptiles and amphibians.
Thoughts on protection:
In the old days, we (collectors, collectively)collected hundreds and even thousands of animals from the wild. Techniques for breeding animals in captivity were still pretty much in their infancy then. Did we have a negative impact on wild populations? I don't know. I don't think so. I didn't see much difference in the numbers collected from year to year in any particular locale. If a snake was rare one year, it was still rare the next. If it was common one year it was still common the next. Many animals that were considered rare, really weren't but their natural history was poorly understood. In other words, we just didn't know how to find them. This is especially true of fossorial species. Pine snakes are wherever you find them, for the most part (some will use gopher burrows, etc. but not to the same degree as some other animals). Sort of like Canebrake rattlesnakes. Species such as Indigo snakes and Eastern Diamondbacks are easily over collected in a particular area because they are easy to locate. They depend largely on Gopher Tortoise burrows for shelter. I like to think that we had sort of unwritten rules about overcollecting these kinds of animals in a particular area.
What I see now is subdivisions and shopping malls and industrial and office parks squarely on top of what was once prime habitat. That is the way you wipe out a species, especially one with limited range and narrow, specific habitat requirements. I really feel that it is because of habitat destruction that protection is even necessary these days, in most cases. We have hammered the populations so hard by destroying their habitats, that the remaining poulations are under extreme pressure and ANY collecting can be detrimental. Animals like pine snakes each need a specific amount of individual range. You can't take a population that would naturally inhabit 200,000 acres and relocate them to an area of 2,000 acres and expect them to thrive. There is a project in Mobile County now to relocate a population of Gopher Tortoises to make way for a road construction project. Essentially what they are attempting to do is to condense a population into half it's normal area. Granted, the population, as it exists now, is less that what it would be if that area were uninhabited by humans. I don't know about the prospects for success. I hope it works. At least they are TRYING to do SOMETHING. What you have to take into account, though is the sympatric and dependent species. Are they going to relocate those also? How in the world would you do that?
OK...off soapbox for now.
:Here's a pic of my adult male from Escambia Co. Florida stock. This is a naturally occurring intergrade. His babies showed a lot more pattern than baby lodingi ... one of his babies looks pretty much like a mugitus that's just a darker "chestnut" color. One thing is for sure, the intergrades have the mugitus genes for size ... this guy is about 7 ft.