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Posted by WW on January 09, 2003 at 13:49:52:
In Reply to: Excellent points... posted by Kenny Wray on January 09, 2003 at 12:00:12:
Looking at the Rodriguez-Robles and de Jesus-Escobar Pituophis phylogeogrpahy paper, it really beats me why ruthveni was ever considered a separate species - it is rooted smack among a bunch of sayi haplotypes.
The morphological paper that first proposed separate species status for ruthveni was deeply flawed in terms of analysis, and, to my mind, does not tell us anything about the status of ruthveni. Bottom line is, there is absolutely no good evidence that ruthveni represents a separate evolutionary lineage on an independent trajectory. Sure, there is a distribution gap and no gene flow, but the same could be said about two populations either side of a major freeway.
The Rodriguez-Robles phylogeography makes a pretty good case for considering melanoleucus as distinct, but sayi is all over the place with catenifer sensu lato. All in all, the two species scenario (four counting deppei and lineaticollis) seems to make the most sense. IMHO.