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A taxonomic account of the Iranian ratsnakes of the Elaphe longissima species-group

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In this paper available material of the Elaphe longissima species group from Iran, presented in museum collections or collected by the authors, has been studied. Statistical cluster analyses are applied to this material. Three different taxa (hohenackeri, persica, longissima ssp.) are recognized within this group from Iran. Of three specimens of Elaphe hohenackeri, collected in Iran, two have the "taurica" form of pattern. A comparison with E.hohenackeri from different parts of its range showed that this species is monotypic.The phenetical distance between E.l.persica and non-Iranian E.l.longissma was of similar magnitude as between these two and E.hohenackeri, which motivates a specific rank for persica. Elaphe persica n.comb. is distributed in the Alburz mountains in northern Iran. A morphological description is given on the variable juvenile morph.A recently discovered population of Elaphe longissima in western Iran (Azarbaijan) indicates the occurence of a new diverging morph which differs from E.l.longissima in size, number of ventrals in males, subcaudals in both sexes as well as in some colour pattern.

Affiliations: 1: University of Göteborg, Department of Zoology


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