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Color Pattern Morphs of the Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus) in Southern California: Distribution and Evolutionary Status





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Color pattern morphs of the kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus) in southern California: distribution and evolutionary status by Richard G. Zweifel, Bull. Southern California Acad. Sci., 80(2):70-81, 1981. Four basic color pattern morphs occur in southern California and northern Baja California: ringed, striped, Long Beach, and Whittier. Ringed is found throughout the wide range of L. g. californiae, whereas the other morphs apparently are confined almost wholly to coastal drainages from Los Angeles County to the vicinity of Ensenada, Baja California, though none but ringed occupies the whole area. Pattern intermediates between ringed (genetically recessive) and striped (dominant) occur infrequently within the range of striped and evidently more commonly than striped in peripheral regions. An hypothesis concerned with genes that modify the dominance of striped is advanced to explain this phenomenon. The two most abundant patterns, ringed and striped, are thought to function in different ways to confound sight-hunting predators. The various nonringed morphs in the study area and others known from central California and southern Baja California may have originated as independent mutations from ringed ancestors. If so, dispersal over improbably long distances is not required to explain their scattered distributions.