Conservation Genetics of the Imperiled Striped Whipsnake in Washington

Release Date:

The striped whipsnake occurs across 11 western U.S. states and into Mexico but has experienced population declines in parts of its range, particularly in Washington.

Researchers analyzed nuclear and mitochondrial DNA extracted mainly from shed skins to assess local genetic diversity and differentiation within and between the last known whipsnake populations in Washington. Microsatellite data analyses indicated that there was comparable genetic diversity between the two small, extant Washington populations, but gene flow may be somewhat limited. Scientists found evidence that Washington whipsnakes are most closely related to those in Oregon. This investigation into the whipsnake population genetic diversity and differentiation using shed skins as a source of DNA demonstrates a unique method for evaluating the status of secretive snake species that are difficult to observe or study. The genetic information provided may serve as an early warning of extinction risk caused by population declines and isolation while there is still time to implement conservation actions and measure their benefits.  

 

Pilliod, D.S., Hallock, L.A., Miller, M.P., Mullins, T.D., Haig, S.M., 2020, Conservation genetics of the imperiled Striped Whipsnake in Washington, USA: Herpetological Conservation and Biology, v. 15, no. 3, p. 597-610, http://www.herpconbio.org/Volume_15/Issue_3/Pilliod_etal_2020.pdf 

Related Content

Filter Total Items: 2
Date published: November 27, 2017
Status: Active

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology Team (FRESC)

Wildlife respond to changes in their environment, some of which are dramatic and others subtle. To fully understand the factors that drive changes in populations and communities, we need better information on wildlife ecology in natural and human-altered landscapes. We conduct research and provide technical assistance to address applied questions about the ecology and conservation of wildlife...

Contacts: David S Pilliod
Date published: November 14, 2017
Status: Active

Tools and Techniques for Monitoring Wildlife Habitats, Communities, and Populations

Resource monitoring is critically important for documenting trends and learning from the past (i.e., adaptive management), yet it has been plagued with poor design and execution. We are developing and testing novel approaches to wildlife monitoring, including the use of non-invasive field sampling and molecular markers to determine patterns of species occurrence and population abundance...

Contacts: David S Pilliod