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Posted by troy h on January 09, 2003 at 08:08:13:
In Reply to: You have to ask yourself... posted by Kenny Wray on January 09, 2003 at 07:45:15:
personally, i feel that the apparent geographic isolation of p. ruthveni from p. c. sayi is an artifact of habitat alteration - the blackland prairies (which were formerly good bullsnake habitat) have, by in large, been converted into agriculture (unsuitable for bullsnakes) and the post oak savannahs (formerly a grassland with scattered oak trees) have been converted into youpon/oak thickets (suitable for elaphe, but unsuitable for pituophis). even so, there are scattered records of bullsnakes in these areas, and there are records of bullsnakes in counties adjacent to counties with ruthveni records (van zandt/wood north of tyler).
furthermore, ruthveni habitat in east texas (climax pine forests with grasses underneath) have also largely been converted into thickets, diminishing their natural range. the two forms may now be genetically isolated from one another, but i doubt that this was the case as recently as 150 years ago.
although i'm less familiar with the habitats and distribution of bullsnakes and n. pine snakes (p. m. melanoleucus) in the northern parts of their respective ranges, the fragmented distribution of both species in TN, KY, OH, IO, IN etc suggest that a similar case could be made for the distribution of these animals.
at any rate, this would be my reasoning for lumping catenifer/ruthveni/sayi/etc back into melanoleucus . . .
as for sayi being its own species, i just can't see how this can be justified . . . in west Texas, the intergrade zone between these two forms is several hundred miles wide. I find intergrades (along with sayi-like and affinis-like) forms in an area from Sanderson to Marfa along hwy 90.