A Word About Taxonomy of Mexicana Kingsnakes
In the species accounts that follow, we have treated each of the forms of Mexicana kingsnakes as species-level taxa. In doing so, we follow the original describers, who named alterna, greeri, leonis, mexicana, ruthveni, and webbi as distinct species. This arrangement also follows recommendations in the most recent comprehensive taxonomic treatment of this group by Hansen & Salmon (2017).
Additionally, we often refer to the “Mexicana Group” or the “Mexicana Complex” in reference to this gathering of species. When applied in a taxonomic sense, such names imply a natural (= monophyletic) grouping, meaning that collectively, species in this group are more closely related to other group-member species than they are to species outside the group. Although some authors have suggested this to be the case, there really is not any compelling evidence to support this arrangement. Indeed, preliminary investigations of mtDNA sequences of various Mexican Lampropeltis suggest that some Mexicana kingsnakes might be more closely related to snakes presently included in the enormous composite species Lampropeltis triangulum (milksnakes) or to members of L. pyromelana / knoblochi (Sonoran Mountain Kingsnakes) and L. zonata (California Mountain Kingsnake)—certainly an intriguing possibility. Students of Mexican Lampropeltis eagerly await additional results from these and other studies.
To access a species account please click on links at top of page.