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Lampropeltis zonata (LOCKINGTON, 1835)

IUCN Red List - Lampropeltis zonata - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: California Mountain Kingsnake
multicincta: Sierra Mountain Kingsnake
multifasciata: Coast Mountain Kingsnake
parvirubra: San Bernardino Mountain Kingsnake
pulchra: San Diego Mountain Kingsnake
zonata: St. Helena Mountain Kingsnake
G: Bergkönigsnatter, Korallen-Königsnatter 
SynonymColuber (Zacholus) zonatus LOCKINGTON in BLAINVILLE 1835: 293
Bellophis zonata — LOCKINGTON 1876: 53
Ophibolus getulus multicinctus YARROW 1882
Ophibolus triangulus var. zonatus — GARMAN 1884: 66
Coronella multifasciata BOCOURT 1886: 616
Lampropeltis agalma VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1923: 2
Lampropeltis herrerae VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1923: 2
Lampropeltis zonata — FITCH 1936
Lampropeltis multicincta — LEWIS 1942
Lampropeltis zonata parvirubra ZWEIFEL 1952
Lampropeltis zonata pulchra ZWEIFEL 1952
Lampropeltis zonata — STEBBINS 1985: 192
Lampropeltis zonata pulchra — MEHRTENS 1987: 131
Lampropeltis zonata — LINER 1994
Lampropeltis zonata multicincta — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis zonata multifasciata — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis zonata parvirubra — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis zonata zonata — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis zonata pulchra — CROTHER 2000: 64
Lampropeltis herrerae — GRISMER 2001
Lampropeltis herrerae — GRISMER 2002
Lampropeltis zonata — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Lampropeltis zonata — MYERS et al. 2013
Lampropeltis multifasciata — MYERS et al. 2013
Lampropeltis zonata — WALLACH et al. 2014: 360
Lampropeltis herrerae — LEMOS-ESPINAL 2015
Lampropeltis multifasciata — LEMOS-ESPINAL 2015
Lampropeltis herrerae — JOHNSON et al. 2017
Lampropeltis multifasciata — CROTHER et al. 2017 
DistributionUSA (Oregon, Washington, California),
Mexico (Baja California Norte)

herrerae: Mexico (Baja California: South Todos Santos Island); Type locality: South Todos Santos Island, Lower California, Mexico

multicincta: Washington

multifasciata: USA (S California), Mexico (N Baja California); Type locality: San Luis-Obispo, California.

zonata: S Oregon, N California; Type locality: Northern California.  
Reproductionoviparous. KREUTZ (2005) reports hybrids between Elaphe (= Pantherophis) guttata and Lampropeltis getulus californiae, between E. (P.) guttata and L. pyromelana, between E. (P.) guttata and L. triangulum sinaloae/nelsoni, and between E. (P.) guttata and L. zonata! 
TypesHolotype: lost, was CAS (lost fide MYERS et al. 2013).
Holotype: SDNHM = SDSNH 38667 [pulchra]
Holotype: CAS 56755 [herrerae]
Holotype: CAS 56865, “7000 ft altitude near Alcatraz, San Pedro Martir Mountains, Lower California, Mexico” [agalma]
Holotype: MNHN 1884.326 [multifasciata]
Holotype: MVZ 42407 (adult male) [parvirubra]
Holotype: USNM 11753 [Ophibolus getulus multicinctus] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: L. zonata is likely to be confused only with L. pyromelana or with western races of L. triangulum (both allopatric to zonata, but see diagnosis of L. z. herrerae). L. pyromelana has the snout largely white, whereas it is black or black with red markings in zonata. In triangulum with a pattern similar to that of zonata, the white rings tend to broaden as they approach the ventrals rather than remain narrow as in zonata. Most individuals of these two species also differ in numbers of ventral and subcaudal scales: ventrals 194-227 in zonata (Zweifel, 1952) but 175-198 in westernmost triangulum (L. t. taylori; Tanner and Loomis, 1957); subcaudals respectively are 46-62 and 38-54. (Zweifel 1974)

DESCRIPTIONS. Blanchard (1921), Van Denburgh (1922).

Variation: Zweifel (1952) analyzed variation in color pattern and tabulated counts of subcaudal and ventral scales. The basic color pattern of the body is a series of alternating black and white rings. In one subspecies (herrerae) and in occasional individuals of another (multicincta) the pattern lacks red, but typically each black ring encloses a lateral red area on each side, and the red areas may coalesce mid-dorsally, forming a red ring between two black rings. For purposes of description, the basic unit of color pattern is a triad--a pair of white rings together with the black or red and black areas between them. Variation in red is expressed as the per cent of total body triads in which the lateral red areas join mid-dorsally, and ranges from 0 to 100. The first white ring, located on the back of the head, may have its posterior margin on or anterior to the last supralabial (anterior position), at the angle of the mouth (intermediate position), or behind the angle of the mouth (posterior position). The prefrontal area may be black or may show light pigment (generally red in life). Differences in numbers of body triads, amount of red on body and snout, and position of the first white ring characterize the subspecies. (Zweifel 1974)

IDENTIFICATION (herrerae): Lampropeltis herrerae can be distinguished from all other snakes in the region of study by having a prominent white band on the posterior portion of the head in contact with the parietal scales; few or no red bands on the body; no red on the snout; and last supralabial touched with black. [...] Additionally, it is the only member of the L. zonata complex that lacks red in its dorsal pattern (with the occasional exception of some specimens of L. z. multicincta from the Sierra Nevada and northern California) and has elongated vertebrae (Hayes 1975). (Grismer 2002: 281)

See Hardy 1973 for descriptions of subspecies. 
CommentAuthorship: the original description in Blainville does not mention Lockington on the page of the actual description.

Keogh (1996) could not distinguish among L. pyromelana, L. triangulum, and L. zonata. CROTHER (2000) gives “1876” as the year of description.

Subspecies: COLLINS (1991) elevates some of the subspecies to full species status. RODRÍGUEZ-ROBLES et al. (1999) states that “the two main colour pattern characters used to define the subspecies of L. zonata are so variable that they cannot be reliably used to differentiate taxonomic units within this complex, which calls into question the recognition of seven geographical races of this snake.” Collins & Taggart (2009) do not recognize subspecies either. MYERS et al. (2013) split L. zonata into L. zonata and L. multifasciata based on molecular data. The two “species” are not distinguishable morphologically but they “inhabit distinct climatic environments”. The authors provide a distribution map of the two species. See MYERS et al. 2013 for a synonymy of the two forms. Rodríguez-Robles et al. (1999) noted on the basis of DNA sequence data that L. herrerae formed a unique lineage. While Hayes (1975) recommended elevating L. herrerae to full species, they felt that doing so on the basis of their DNA sequence data alone would be premature in the absence of a morphological analysis.

Distribution: see Hardy 1973 for a map of subspecies as understood at the time. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin zonata, meaning banded, derived from Greek zonë, a girdle or belt;

The Greek agalma means a delight, or an ornament.

Alfonso Herrera was a Mexican naturalist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries;

L. z. multicincta and multifasciata derive from the Latin multus, meaning many,
cinctus, meaning banded, and fascis, a bundle or band.

L. z. parvirubra is from the Latin parvus, meaning little, and ruber, meaning red.

L. z. pulchra is Latin for beautiful. 
References
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  • Blainville, Henri Marie Ducrotay de 1835. Description de quelques espèces de reptiles de la Californie précédée de l’analyse d’un système général d’erpétologie et d’amphibiologie. Nouv. Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris 4: 233-296 - get paper here
  • Blanchard, Frank N. 1920. A synopsis of the king snakes: Genus Lampropeltis Fitzinger. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (87): 1-7 - get paper here
  • Bocourt, M. F. 1886. In A. Duméril, M. F. Bocourt, and F. Mocquard, (1870-1909), Etudes sur les reptiles, p. i-xiv, 1-1012. In Recherches Zoologiques pour servir a l'Histoire de Ia Faune de l'Amérique Centrale et du Mexique. Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amér Imprimerie Impériale, Paris, Vol. 3 - get paper here
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  • Rodríguez-Robles, Javier A.; Denardo, D.F. & Staub, R.E. 1999. Phylogeography of the California mountain kingsnake, Lampropeltis zonata (Colubridae). Molecular Ecology 8: 1923–1934 - get paper here
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  • Ukuwela, K.D.B., de Silva, A., Sivaruban, A. et al. 2022. Diversity, distribution, and natural history of the marine snakes of Sri Lanka. Marine Biodiversity 52, 24 (2022) - get paper here
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  • Zweifel, Richard G. 1975. Lampropeltis zonata. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (174): 1-4 - get paper here
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