Subspecies and Locality

Josiah Rossic

Well-Known Member
What's the difference between subspecies and locality? Like, with the stimson python, is a wheatbelt stimson a locality of stimson or a stimson python subspecies? Is locality only found in a species and not a subspecies? For example; can you have a carpet python locality but not a western carpet locality? Just a question that's been on my mind. Hoping you guys could help :)

Josiah.
 

Herptology

Well-Known Member
Trusted Seller
Locality is where they come from, example Gosford diamonds, or Dajarra black headed pythons

Not subspecies, but animals look different based on their locations, northern diamonds are a lot more yellow than southern diamonds that are darker!
 

ralazal

Not so new Member
Wait a minute, aren't daimonds a subspecies?
Basically a subspecies has been described scientifically as a distinct group. Yes, diamonds are a subspecies. As stated above a locality is an informal label people use (particularly breeders) where two or more different groups of the same species or subspecies exist that aren't, or haven't yet been, formally recognized.

While a little simplistic, you might consider species (from the same genus) being quite different from each other. Subspecies are less different and localities are less different again.
 

nick_75

Donator
Donator
Wait a minute, aren't daimonds a subspecies?
Diamond pythons are a subspecies within Morelia spilota.

The descriptions above of what a locality is boils down to purely cosmetic differences of colouring and pattern. In some instances, localities may also have variations in size. Yet there is no change in DNA and the overall morphology within the animals subspecies.
 

Sdaji

APS Veteran
APS Veteran
Trusted Seller
Locality is just a locality. It doesn't need to look different, it doesn't need to look the same as others from that locality, it just needs to originate from that locality. That's literally all it means, it has no relation to what something looks like or how big it is or anything other than its natural geographic origin.

The terms subspecies and locality are not at all related. One is geographic, one is taxonomic. These are not the same concepts.
 

Josiah Rossic

Well-Known Member
Locality is just a locality. It doesn't need to look different, it doesn't need to look the same as others from that locality, it just needs to originate from that locality. That's literally all it means, it has no relation to what something looks like or how big it is or anything other than its natural geographic origin.

The terms subspecies and locality are not at all related. One is geographic, one is taxonomic. These are not the same concepts.
Thank you Sdaji!
 

ralazal

Not so new Member
Hopefully nobody gets upset if I add to this, but it is an interesting subject that is not always so simple.

Take for example the genus Antaresia. Up until fairly recently it was considered a single species with several different "localities". Even now there are people who more or less consider them a single species or at most several subspecies. Most people today, as we know, consider them as the 4 species with some suggesting several possible subspecies that have yet to be described and are currently considered localities.

In the pet trade, generally localities are animals that are distinctly different based on coloration or pattern, despite the obvious semantic argument.
 

Southernserpent

Active Member
It's pretty simple locality simply means where the animal came from.
Sometimes that can be a seperate species or sub species or even an undescribed species. But the term locality still means where the animal came from.
Some times in captivity these localities can become a more distinct look through selective breeding this is often driven by the reptile trade or breeders. But in the end the term locality is still a place of origin
 

Sdaji

APS Veteran
APS Veteran
Trusted Seller
Hopefully nobody gets upset if I add to this, but it is an interesting subject that is not always so simple.

Take for example the genus Antaresia. Up until fairly recently it was considered a single species with several different "localities". Even now there are people who more or less consider them a single species or at most several subspecies. Most people today, as we know, consider them as the 4 species with some suggesting several possible subspecies that have yet to be described and are currently considered localities.

In the pet trade, generally localities are animals that are distinctly different based on coloration or pattern, despite the obvious semantic argument.

I'm not upset about this, but you're using the term 'locality' incorrectly.

A locality is a locality. It doesn't matter if something is different or not. Locality just means locality. The word literally tells you what it means. Locality. We don't consider there to be localities, there are localities. If I catch some snakes in Mandalay or Timbuktu or Marble Bar or Gundagai, it doesn't matter what they look like, that's their locality. It doesn't matter if no one can tell the difference between them and something else, or if they look radically different from every other snake in that same area, that's their locality. However you define Antaresia for example, and locality is always that locality. You can reclassify them taxonomically in whatever way you want. Call them the same species, different genus, reclassify one as a frog and another as a turtle if you want to, but their localities are still their localities.

We don't 'consider' anything to be a locality. A locality is a very simple, easy to understand term. If means the place something came from. That's all.
[doublepost=1597891168,1597890838][/doublepost]
sure they don’t “need” to look different based on their locale... but they do

Nope! They sometimes do, but not always, and you can find examples where there is plenty of variation within individual localities but not between individual localities.

Just as a random conceptual example, two Bell's phase lace monitors from different localities will look more similar to each other than to non Bell's phase lace monitors from their own locality. If I want to find a whole heap of Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) most of them will look tan, but I will sometimes find a red or black one, and this is the case in a wide range of localities (places). One locality may have more black or red ones or more Bell's phase or more stripes or spots or blotches, but if I find one which looks like that in a different locality, its locality is not what it looks most typical of, it's where it came from. Then you have species with very little variation across their range, you can't really guess where it's from based on how it looks (most people would struggle to have any idea of the locality of an Olive Python for example) but they still have localities because they come from localities.
 

GBWhite

Well-Known Member
What's the difference between subspecies and locality? Like, with the stimson python, is a wheatbelt stimson a locality of stimson or a stimson python subspecies? Is locality only found in a species and not a subspecies? For example; can you have a carpet python locality but not a western carpet locality? Just a question that's been on my mind. Hoping you guys could help :)
Josiah.

sure they don’t “need” to look different based on their locale... but they do

I think Sdaji has summed up the answer to your question nice and neatly here...."The terms subspecies and locality are not at all related. One is geographic, one is taxonomic. These are not the same concepts."

Just be aware that herpetoculture (the hobby of keeping/breeding reptiles) and herpetology (the scientific study of reptiles) are two completely different fields. And in many, many instances within the hobby the word "locality" is just used as a marketing tool for those who sell snakes (and it relates to the python market in particular). And even then it might not actually apply to a specific animal but to its ancestry. I don't know how much field work you have ever undertaken but I can assure you that in many instances you can find a wide variety of colours and patterns of the exact same species of snakes (pythons included) from the exact same locality. What happens is that, because the market basically demands the most colourful and/or striking patterns, selective breeding is the norm and as such the hobbyist rarely (if ever) gets to see those animals from the same location that, shall we say are..."less marketable".

Snakes bred for the market place are produced through selective breeding have no bearing what-so-ever on taxonomy.
 
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Lurker

Not so new Member
So....just to debate the point of “locality” a bit.....

Would I be wrong when I put the idea forward, of particular localities - and I’m talking large areas in when I say locality - throwing certain genetic differences in snakes, simply through undisturbed evolution in those snakes genetic makeups? That is, certain traits in colour are passed on generation to generation and in the case of pythons living relatively undisturbed in their happy environment, those traits can become a signature of sorts within a noticeable number of the pythons caught there, simply because they chose not to travel that far because they were already in favourable areas to live ie their preferred locality.

Using diamond pythons for example, would you agree that it’d be a fair statement to say that, for the most part, the diamonds from the cooler, southern regions are generally darker than their cousins from the northernmost areas that they’re found. Diamonds from the colder blue mountain areas are likely also darker than the northern ones, but perhaps not quite so dark as the southern ones, whilst the northern diamonds lose that darkness and acquire more of the yellow. If you do agree with that statement, then would it necessarily follow that I’d be correct in saying that when I say that I want a northern diamond python, everyone within the reptile hobby would know that I was after a diamond with more yellow than dark? If I say I’m particularly interested in a Gosford diamond, then you’re likely thinking that I’m after something that’s Het high yellow because, if I’m not, why don’t I just grab any old diamond? Why the Gosford?


I guess my point is that “locality reptiles” are *generally* a known trait, usually colour, and people want a reptile with that trait and so their chances of achieving it are increased when using local stock with that particular trait.

Thoughts?
 

Herptology

Well-Known Member
Trusted Seller
So....just to debate the point of “locality” a bit.....

Would I be wrong when I put the idea forward, of particular localities - and I’m talking large areas in when I say locality - throwing certain genetic differences in snakes, simply through undisturbed evolution in those snakes genetic makeups? That is, certain traits in colour are passed on generation to generation and in the case of pythons living relatively undisturbed in their happy environment, those traits can become a signature of sorts within a noticeable number of the pythons caught there, simply because they chose not to travel that far because they were already in favourable areas to live ie their preferred locality.

Using diamond pythons for example, would you agree that it’d be a fair statement to say that, for the most part, the diamonds from the cooler, southern regions are generally darker than their cousins from the northernmost areas that they’re found. Diamonds from the colder blue mountain areas are likely also darker than the northern ones, but perhaps not quite so dark as the southern ones, whilst the northern diamonds lose that darkness and acquire more of the yellow. If you do agree with that statement, then would it necessarily follow that I’d be correct in saying that when I say that I want a northern diamond python, everyone within the reptile hobby would know that I was after a diamond with more yellow than dark? If I say I’m particularly interested in a Gosford diamond, then you’re likely thinking that I’m after something that’s Het high yellow because, if I’m not, why don’t I just grab any old diamond? Why the Gosford?


I guess my point is that “locality reptiles” are *generally* a known trait, usually colour, and people want a reptile with that trait and so their chances of achieving it are increased when using local stock with that particular trait.

Thoughts?
This is a wild diamond python we got at the fruit markets in Sydney that hitched a ride on a truck from Gosford with some fruit and veg( we had it given to a local wildlife reserve, not sure what happened to it afterwards, hopefully it got sent back)

Terrible photo but u can see the high yellow


[doublepost=1598132425,1598132189][/doublepost]And here’s an example of a captive bred line bred from original pure Gosford diamond by getting the most yellow of each clutch and putting them together

Pic: JJ reptiles

9DDAD386-1C68-4D1A-BBB6-285052DB10E3.jpeg
 
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Bluetongue1

APS Veteran
APS Veteran
I strongly suspect that what the OP was endeavouring to refer to was the term locale, although he used the word locality. His primary example of a wheatbelt stimson is referred to as a locale. The area involved here is particularly with a multitude of localities within it. If he intended the term locale, rather than locality, that would also explain why he was confused between it and sub-species. It is apparent from a number of the responses that some others consider locality and locale as interchangeable terms. In our hobby they really do not mean the same thing.

A locale is not simply a locality, but a place that is associated with specific events or characteristics. In the case of reptiles, it is certain characteristics of the population of that species in that area. As Nick_75 pointed out, these are usually colour and pattern, and sometimes size. So while there is always variation present in any specific population, in locales there is usually enough consistency to allow the characteristics of that population to stand out from other populations. Where this is not the case, then use of the term locale is not warranted. As there are no rules or formal process for naming and describing a locale, this leaves it open to misuse and makes it a rather loose concept in practice.
 

Josiah Rossic

Well-Known Member
I strongly suspect that what the OP was endeavouring to refer to was the term locale, although he used the word locality. His primary example of a wheatbelt stimson is referred to as a locale. The area involved here is particularly with a multitude of localities within it. If he intended the term locale, rather than locality, that would also explain why he was confused between it and sub-species. It is apparent from a number of the responses that some others consider locality and locale as interchangeable terms. In our hobby they really do not mean the same thing.

A locale is not simply a locality, but a place that is associated with specific events or characteristics. In the case of reptiles, it is certain characteristics of the population of that species in that area. As Nick_75 pointed out, these are usually colour and pattern, and sometimes size. So while there is always variation present in any specific population, in locales there is usually enough consistency to allow the characteristics of that population to stand out from other populations. Where this is not the case, then use of the term locale is not warranted. As there are no rules or formal process for naming and describing a locale, this leaves it open to misuse and makes it a rather loose concept in practice.
Yeah, locale was the word I meant. Thanks Bluetongue1 :)
 

Nero Egernia

Well-Known Member
Sdaji and GBWhite hit the nail on the head here.

A "locality" is merely a descriptive term of where a reptile or it's ancestors originated. A so-called locality often has no bearing on a reptile's colour/pattern as each population is subject to a wide range of variation. When I used to live in the Plantagenet region in Western Australia, you'd get King's Skinks of all sorts of colours/patterns; black, black with yellow spots, brown and black, brown with yellow spots, chestnut etc. Some of these colour variations were present within one family group! The general consensus, however, is that the more south King's Skinks are, the more black they are. Couldn't be further from the truth in some cases. The more time you spend observing these critters in the wild, the more you realize that these labels bear little or no meaning on the animal's appearance. If anything, knowing the locality would only be important so you can know what climatic conditions your chosen species is used to.

I would even go so far as to say that reptiles bred in captivity no longer have a locality as they were selectively bred by humans. They're no longer at the whims of Mother Nature and natural selection. They're no longer part of the wild and her gene pool. In these situations, "locality" is largely irrelevant in my opinion. But it is just my opinion, after all.
 
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