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Colour pattern variation in populations of the European Whip snake, Hierophis viridiflavus: does geography explain everything?

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Different colour patterns in European Whip snake, range from normal ("viridiflavus" pattern), to abundistic (dark pattern), to melanic-melanotic (black) patterns. Sexes are highly dimorphic, with more abundistic and melanotic-melanic males, than females. Colour patterns are also distributed in well defined areas of the species' distribution range. Normal colour is distributed in N Europe, N, NW and C Italy, while abundistic snakes are typical of Corsica and Sardinia, and melanic-melanotic snakes are very common or exclusive of NE, S Italy and Sicily. Proximal causes that may have driven the distribution of present colour patterns are linked to palaeogeographic events, even if fossil reconstruction of past colonization or a suitable phylogeographic hypothesis are not available.

Affiliations: 1: Museo di Storia Naturale e del Territorio, Università di Pisa, via Roma 79, I-56011 Italy, Email:


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