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Data from: Synopsis and taxonomic revision of three genera in the snake tribe Sonorini

Cite this dataset

Cox, Christian L. et al. (2018). Data from: Synopsis and taxonomic revision of three genera in the snake tribe Sonorini [Dataset]. Dryad.


Delimiting species is a crucial goal of integrative biology, and yet can be misled by homoplasy and high levels of morphological variation. The snake tribe Sonorini contains three genera that have long confounded taxonomists: Chilomeniscus, Chionactis and Sonora. Dynamic colour evolution in this group, including rampant geographic variation in colour and colour polymorphism, has led to a chaotic taxonomy. We used mitochondrial and high-throughput nuclear data (ddRADseq) and complete taxonomic sampling of each genus to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and systematically revise the genus. Our research revealed that Sonora is paraphyletic with regards to Chilomeniscus and Chionactis and that at least one species (S. semiannulata) is paraphyletic with respect to at least one other recognized species. Additionally, we found substantial undescribed genetic diversity within multiple species which is incongruent with morphological variation in coloration. Accordingly, we proposed synonymizing Chionactis and Chilomeniscus with Sonora, which has taxonomic priority over both genera. As we found genetic evidence that supported some of the historically delimited diversity within multiple taxa, we revised species-level taxonomy accordingly. This new taxonomy recognizes a revised genus of Sonora that contains 15 species of diminutive and often brightly coloured snakes that are distributed from central Mexico to north-western USA.

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