Genomic data reveal local endemism in Southern California Rubber Boas (Serpentes: Boidae, Charina) and the critical need for enhanced conservation actions.

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Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Report
Length: 590 words

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Keywords California floristic province; Charina; Conservation; Montane; RADseq; Rubber Boas; Sky-islands; Southern California Highlights. * Based on multiple lines of evidence our results support four lineages within the C. bottae complex, each restricted to distinct biogeographic regions of coastal California, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, southern California Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, and the Great Basin. * Additionally, our results indicate each of these lineages contain multiple divergent clades, highlighting the possible unrecognized diversity within Rubber Boas across their entire range. * Additionally, our data provide further evidence that C. b. umbratica is composed of multiple sky-island populations that are currently restricted to isolated mountain tops and ranges across southern California, and is an independent evolutionary unit. * When these results are considered in the context of environmental challenges and current and future habitat suitability, a picture of extremely reduced habitat and localized extinction emerges over the next 70 years for many sky-island populations of C. b. umbratica. * These models of future habitat suitability also indicate that these same threats have the same potential to lead to local extirpation of montane populations of other co-distributed species as well. * Therefore, as defined under the we recommend that C. b. umbratica be available for federal protection. Abstract The mountains of southern California represent unique, isolated ecosystems that support distinct high-elevation habitats found nowhere else in the area. Analyses of several moisture-dependent species across these sky-islands indicate they exist as locally endemic lineages that occur across these fragmented mountains ranges. The Rubber Boa is a semi-fossorial snake species that is widely distributed in the cooler and more moist ecoregions regions of western North America, including isolated populations across southern California mountain ranges. We developed a genomic and ecological dataset to examine genetic diversity within Rubber Boas and to determine if the endemic Southern Rubber Boa represents a distinct lineage. We quantified current and future habitat suitability under a range of climate change scenarios, and discuss the possible environmental threats facing these unique montane isolates. Our results support four major lineages within Rubber Boas, with genetic breaks that are consistent with biogeographic boundaries observed in other co-distributed, cool-temperature, moisture adapted species. Our data support previous studies that the Southern Rubber Boa is an independent evolutionary unit and now includes multiple locally endemic sky-island populations, restricted to isolated mountain tops and ranges across southern California. Analyses of future habitat suitability indicate that many of these sky-island populations will lose most of their suitable habitat over the next 70 years given predicted increases in drought, rising temperatures, and wildfires. Collectively these data emphasize the critical conservation needs of these montane ecosystems in southern California under current and projected climate change conditions. Author Affiliation: (a) Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, La Kretz Center for Californian Conservation Science, and Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA (b) Department of Biological Sciences and Museum of Natural History, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA (c) Department of Biology, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA 92515, USA (d) Department of Biological Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA 91768, USA (e) Department of Life, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, TX 79016, USA * Corresponding author at: Department of Biology, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA 92515, USA. Article History: Received 30 August 2021; Revised 25 May 2022; Accepted 31 May 2022 Byline: Jesse Grismer [jgrismer@lasierra.edu] (a,b,c,*), Peter Scott (a,e), Erin Toffelmier (a), Brian Hinds (c), Randy Klabacka (b), Glenn Stewart (d), Virginia White (b), Jamie Oaks (b), H. Bradley Shaffer (a)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A708782306