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Thamnophis elegans (BAIRD & GIRARD, 1853)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesThamnophis elegans elegans (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
Thamnophis elegans vagrans (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
Thamnophis elegans hueyi VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1923
Thamnophis elegans terrestris FOX 1951 
Common NamesE: Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
arizonae: Arizona Garter Snake
elegans: Mountain Garter Snake
errans: Mexican Wandering Garter Snake
terrestris: Coast Garter Snake
vagrans: Wandering Garter Snake
vascotanneri: Upper Basin Garter Snake
hueyi: San-Pedro-Martir Garter Snake
G: Bergstrumpfbandnatter
S: Jarretera Terrestre Occidental 
SynonymEutainia [sic] elegans BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 34
Tropidonotus trivittatus HALLOWELL 1853
Eutaenia biscutata COPE 1883: 21
Eutaenia elegans lineolata COPE 1892
Eutaenia elegans brunnea COPE 1892
Thamnophis ordinoides elegans — VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1921
Thamnophis ordinoides elegans — FITCH 1936
Thamnophis elegans — SMITH & SMITH 1976
Thamnophis elegans — STEBBINS 1985: 201
Thamnophis elegans — LINER 1994
Thamnophis elegans — CROTHER et al. 2012
Thamnophis elegans — WALLACH et al. 2014: 721

Thamnophis elegans elegans (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
Eutainia [sic] elegans BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 34
Thamnophis elegans elegans — ROSSMAN 1979
Thamnophis elegans elegans — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis elegans elegans — CROTHER et al. 2012
Thamnophis elegans elegans — HALLAS et al. 2021

Thamnophis elegans hueyi VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1923
Thamnophis ordinoides hueyi VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1923: 2
Thamnophis ordinoides hueyi — SMITH & TAYLOR 1945
Thamnophis elegans hueyi — LINER 1994
Thamnophis elegans hueyi — ROSSMAN et al. 1996

Thamnophis elegans terrestris FOX 1951
Thamnophis elegans terrestris — STEBBINS 1985: 206 (listed under “couchii”)
Thamnophis elegans terrestris — COLLINS 1997
Thamnophis elegans terrestris — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis elegans terrestris — BOL 2007
Thamnophis elegans terrestris — CROTHER et al. 2012
Thamnophis elegans terrestris — HALLAS et al. 2021

Thamnophis elegans vagrans (BAIRD & GIRARD 1853)
Eutainia [sic] vagrans BAIRD & GIRARD 1853:35
Eutaenia vagrans plutonia YARROW 1883
Eutaenia henshawi YARROW 1883
Tropidonotus vagrans — BOULENGER 1893: 202
Thamnophis vagrans — STEJNEGER 1893: 213
Thamnophis ordinoides vagrans — VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1921
Thamnophis elegans nigrescens JOHNSON 1947
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 170
Thamnophis elegans arizonae TANNER & LOWE 1989
Thamnophis elegans vascotanneri TANNER & LOWE 1989
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — LINER 1994
Thamnophis elegans arizonae — ROSSMAN et al. 1996
Thamnophis elegans vascotanneri — ROSSMAN et al. 1996
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — BRUCHMANN 1997
Thamnophis elegans vargans — HALLMEN 2000 (in error)
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis elegans arizonae — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis elegans vascotanneri — CROTHER 2000
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 103
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — SCHMIDT 2012
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — CROTHER et al. 2012
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — HALLAS et al. 2021
Thamnophis elegans vagrans — RECH 2023 
DistributionW USA (Washington, Oregon, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado), SW Canada,
Mexico (Baja California Norte, Chihuahua)

Has been found in 3990 m elevation.

arizonae (invalid): USA (E Arizona, W New Mexico); Type locality: “marsh approx. 2 miles east of Joseph City, Navajo Co., Arizona”

elegans: USA (C California, SW Oregon)

hueyi: Mexico (N Baja California); Type locality: Arroyo Encantado between La Grulla and La Encantada, Sierra San Pedro Martir, northern Baja California.

terrestris: USA (California); Type locality: Strawberry Canyon, Berkeley, Alameda County, California.

vagrans: W USA (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, NW New Mexico), W Canada (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta)

vascotanneri (invalid): USA (E Utah); Type locality: “junction of Boulger Creek and Huntington River, Emery Co., Utah”.  
Reproductionovoviviparous. There is evidence that vagrans is facultatively parthenogenetic (Schuett et al. 1997). 
TypesHolotype: USNM 882
Holotype: CAS 56855 [hueyi]
yntypes: (2) ANSP 10748-49; Oregon, south and west central lakes [biscutata]
Holotype: BYU 13358 [arizonae]
Holotype: BYU 10245 [vascotanneri]
Holotype: MVZ 48197 (adult female) [terrestris]
Syntypes: USNM 907 (2) [vagrans]
Syntypes: USNM 10840-10847, 10811, 8580, 8587, 9565, 11805, 12564 [Eutaenia elegans lineolata]
Syntype: USNM 10849 [Eutaenia elegans brunnea]
Holotype: USNM 8171 [Eutaenia vagrans plutonia]
Holotype: USNM 10912 [Eutaenia henshawi] 
CommentSubspecies: Hammerson (1999) presented substantial evidence that the races Thamnophis elegans arizonae Tanner & Lowe 1989, and Thamnophis elegans vascotanneri Tanner & Lowe 1989, did not deserve recognition. Similarly, Bronikowski and Arnold (2001) using DNA data, concluded that recognition of the race, Thamnophis elegans terrestris Fox 1951, was unsupported. However, Crother et al. 2012 and others maintained it as valid. Thamnophis elegans errans SMITH 1942 has been elevated to full species status. Hallas et al. 2021 found that vagrans is distinct from elegans and terrestris but refrained from elevating it to species status.

Synonymy: partly after Rossman et al. 1996. Eutaenia biscutata COPE 1883 and Eutaenia elegans brunnea COPE 1892 appear to be intergrades (hybrids) between elegans and vagrans, fide Rossman 1979.

Distribution: see Hallas et al. 2021 (Fig. 1) for an upndated map of the subspecies elegans, terrestris and vagrans.

Genome: The T. elegans genome has been sequenced by Vicoso et al. (2013). 
EtymologyNamed after Latin for elegant; biscutatus is Latin for two-scaled, referring to the horizontally divided preo-cular; hueyi is for L. M. Huey; nigrescens is Latin for blackened; terrestris is Latin for “of the earth, terrestrial”; vagrans is Latin for wandering. 
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