• Lougheed, Stephen C.
  • Gibbs, H. Lisle
  • Prior, Kent
  • Weatherhead, Patrick J.


We investigated the distribution of variation at six microsatellite loci in the black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta). Sampling occurred at three hierarchical scales ranging from communal hibernacula to regional populations, with most locales situated within the Frontenac Axis region of eastern Ontario. We detected no statistically significant pairwise differentiation (FST and RST) between hibernacula within the same subpopulations (interhibernaculum distance <6 km). However, isolation‐by‐distance was evident among locales within the Frontenac Axis (maximum of 50 km) and among regional populations (maximum of 1500 km). Conservative estimates of Nc derived from heterozygosity values ranged from approximately 600 to 2000. These values suggest relatively large genetic neighborhoods encompassing many communal hibernacula. Our results considered together suggest viscosity of gene flow over relatively short distances (tens of kilometers), but substantial genetic exchange among local hibernacula.



Snakes were caught and had blood samples taken