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Title: Conservation genetics of the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): River valleys are critical features for snakes at northern range limits

Abstract

On the North American Great Plains, several snake species reach their northern range limit where they rely on sparsely distributed hibernacula located in major river valleys. Independent colonization histories for the river valleys and barriers to gene flow caused by the lack of suitable habitat between them may have produced genetically differentiated snake populations. To test this hypothesis, we used 10 microsatellite loci to examine the population structure of two species of conservation concern in Canada: the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi) in 3 major river valleys in southern Saskatchewan. Fixation indices (F ST) showed that populations in river valleys were significantly differentiated for both species (racers, F ST = 0.096, P = 0.001; bullsnakes FST = 0.045–0.157, P = 0.001). Bayesian assignment (STRUCTURE) and ordination (DAPC) strongly supported genetically differentiated groups in the geographically distinct river valleys. Finer-scale subdivision of populations within river valleys was not apparent based on our data, but is a topic that should be investigated further. Our findings highlight the importance of major river valleys for snakes at the northern extent of their ranges, and raise the possibility that populations in each river valley may warrant separate management strategies.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [3];  [1];  [4];  [5]
  1. Univ. of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada). Dept. of Biology
  2. Saint Mary's Univ., Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada). Dept. of Biology
  3. Univ. of Georgia, Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River Ecology Lab.
  4. Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada)
  5. National Cheng Kung Univ., Tainan City (Taiwan)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., Athens, GA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
OSTI Identifier:
1406661
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1499891
Grant/Contract Number:  
FC09-07SR22506
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
PLoS ONE
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 12; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Somers, Christopher M., Graham, Carly F., Martino, Jessica A., Frasier, Timothy R., Lance, Stacey L., Gardiner, Laura E., Poulin, Ray G., and Chiang, Tzen-Yuh. Conservation genetics of the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): River valleys are critical features for snakes at northern range limits. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187322.
Somers, Christopher M., Graham, Carly F., Martino, Jessica A., Frasier, Timothy R., Lance, Stacey L., Gardiner, Laura E., Poulin, Ray G., & Chiang, Tzen-Yuh. Conservation genetics of the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): River valleys are critical features for snakes at northern range limits. United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187322.
Somers, Christopher M., Graham, Carly F., Martino, Jessica A., Frasier, Timothy R., Lance, Stacey L., Gardiner, Laura E., Poulin, Ray G., and Chiang, Tzen-Yuh. Thu . "Conservation genetics of the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): River valleys are critical features for snakes at northern range limits". United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187322.
@article{osti_1406661,
title = {Conservation genetics of the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi): River valleys are critical features for snakes at northern range limits},
author = {Somers, Christopher M. and Graham, Carly F. and Martino, Jessica A. and Frasier, Timothy R. and Lance, Stacey L. and Gardiner, Laura E. and Poulin, Ray G. and Chiang, Tzen-Yuh},
abstractNote = {On the North American Great Plains, several snake species reach their northern range limit where they rely on sparsely distributed hibernacula located in major river valleys. Independent colonization histories for the river valleys and barriers to gene flow caused by the lack of suitable habitat between them may have produced genetically differentiated snake populations. To test this hypothesis, we used 10 microsatellite loci to examine the population structure of two species of conservation concern in Canada: the eastern yellow-bellied racer (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) and bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi) in 3 major river valleys in southern Saskatchewan. Fixation indices (FST) showed that populations in river valleys were significantly differentiated for both species (racers, FST = 0.096, P = 0.001; bullsnakes FST = 0.045–0.157, P = 0.001). Bayesian assignment (STRUCTURE) and ordination (DAPC) strongly supported genetically differentiated groups in the geographically distinct river valleys. Finer-scale subdivision of populations within river valleys was not apparent based on our data, but is a topic that should be investigated further. Our findings highlight the importance of major river valleys for snakes at the northern extent of their ranges, and raise the possibility that populations in each river valley may warrant separate management strategies.},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0187322},
journal = {PLoS ONE},
issn = {1932-6203},
number = 11,
volume = 12,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {11}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1371/journal.pone.0187322

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