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Lampropeltis nigra (YARROW, 1882)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Serpentes (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesBlack Kingsnake 
SynonymOphibolus getulus niger YARROW 1882: 438
Lampropeltis getulus nigra — BURT 1935
Lampropeltis getula nigra — CONANT 1938
Lampropeltis getulus niger — SEUFER & JAUCH 1980
Lampropeltis getula niger — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis getula nigra — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 419
Lampropeltis nigra — PYRON & BURBRINK 2009 
DistributionUSA (S Ohio and adjacent West Virginia, south to C Alabama, Kentucky)

Type Locality: Wheatland, Knox Co. Indiana. Map legend:
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
 
TypesHolotype: USNM 12149, collected by Robert Ridgway. 
CommentDiagnosis: The Black Kingsnake (L. nigra) is a large- to medium-bodied constrictor with an average adult size of 90–122cm, with larger individuals attaining maximum lengths of 147–183cm (Conant & Collins 1998). Scales are smooth, anal plate single, and individuals typically exhibit 19–25 scale rows at midbody. Ventral scale counts range from 197–222 in both sexes (fewer in the north), while subcaudals range from 45– 59 in males and 37–51 in females (Blaney 1977). The Black Kingsnake can be distinguished from other species in the genus based on a combination of geography and color pattern. The Black Kingsnake ranges from southern Illinois to the Gulf coast along the Mississippi River, and east to the Appalachian mountain and the Alabama River drainage in south Alabama (Fig. 2). Black Kingsnakes all exhibit a black ground color, typically with a black-and-white checkered venter, and rarely faint traces of dorsal crossbands (Blanchard 1921; Blaney 1977; Conant & Collins 1998). Each dorsal scale is punctuated by a yellow or white speckle near the center of the scale; this is strongest in the southern portion of their range and fades considerably in the north, where many adults may be almost completely black (Conant & Collins 1998; Fig. 3). The Black Kingsnake can be distinguished from the morphologically similar Central lineage on the basis of geography, as the Black Kingsnake is only found east of the Mississippi River (Fig. 2) [from PYRON & BURBRINK 2009]. 
EtymologySpecific epithet refers to the predominantly black dorsal coloration of many specimens. 
References
  • Burt, Charles E. 1935. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16 (3): 311-336 - get paper here
  • Conant, Roger 1938. The Reptiles of Ohio. American Midland Naturalist 20 (1): 1-200 - get paper here
  • Crother, B. I. 2000. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Herpetological Circular 29: 1-82
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Green, N.B., & Pauley, T.K. 1987. Amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia. Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 241 pp.
  • Mitchell, J. C. & Reay, K.K. 1999. Atlas of amphibians and reptiles in Virginia. Specialty Publication 1, VA Dept of Game and Fisheries, 122 pp. - get paper here
  • Pyron, R.Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. LINEAGE DIVERSIFICATION IN A WIDESPREAD SPECIES: ROLES FOR NICHE DIVERGENCE AND CONSERVATISM IN THE COMMON KINGSNAKE, LAMPROPELTIS GETULA. Molecular Ecology 18: 3443–3457
  • Pyron, R.Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2009. Systematics of the Common Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula; Serpentes: Colubridae) and the burden of heritage in taxonomy. Zootaxa 2241: 22-32 - get paper here
  • Seufer, H. & Jauch, H. 1980. Die Kettennatter Lampropeltis getulus Teil 2. Herpetofauna 2 (7): 31-32 - get paper here
  • Tennant, A. & Bartlett, R.D. 2000. Snakes of North America - Eastern and Central Regions. Gulf Publishing, Houston, TX, 588 pp.
  • Yarrow,H.C. 1882. Description of new species of reptiles and amphibians in the US National Museum. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 5: 438-443 - get paper here
 
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