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Species List History

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Changes

Table 1: List of amphibian and reptile scientific names that have changed since Johnson (2000). Click on the species names to view details about that species. Click on the column headings to sort by that column.
Former NameCurrent Name
Acris crepitansAcris blanchardi
Bufo americanusAnaxyrus americanus
Bufo cognatusAnaxyrus cognatus
Bufo fowleriAnaxyrus fowleri
Bufo woodhousiiAnaxyrus woodhousii
Cnemidophorus sexlineatusAspidoscelis sexlineata
Elaphe guttataPantherophis emoryi
Elaphe obsoletaPantherophis obsoletus
Elaphe vulpinaPantherophis vulpinus
Eumeces anthracinusPlestiodon anthracinus
Eumeces fasciatusPlestiodon fasciatus
Eumeces laticepsPlestiodon laticeps
Eumeces obsoletusPlestiodon obsoletus
Eumeces septentrionalisPlestiodon septentrionalis
Eurycea multiplicataEurycea tynerensis
Lampropeltis getulaLampropeltis holbrooki
Masticophis flagellumColuber flagellum
Pseudacris triseriataPseudacris maculata
Rana areolataLithobates areolatus
Rana blairiLithobates blairi
Rana catesbeianaLithobates catesbeianus
Rana clamitansLithobates clamitans
Rana palustrisLithobates palustris
Rana pipiensLithobates pipiens
Rana sphenocephalaLithobates sphenocephalus
Rana sylvaticaLithobates sylvaticus
Sceloporus undulatusSceloporus consobrinus
Typhlotriton spelaeusEurycea spelaea
Virginia striatulaHaldea striatula

Scientific and common names used in this publication follow Crother et al. (2012). Since the publication of Johnson (2000), several systematic studies have necessitated nomenclatural changes of some Missouri species.

Frost et al. (2006) concluded that several geographically widespread genera represented polyphyletic groups. Their work necessitated the splitting of several familiar genera and applying new names to the species found in Missouri. Missouri toads formerly placed in the genus Bufo have been reassigned to the genus Anaxyrus and true frogs of the genus Rana are now placed in the genus Lithobates.

Two other formerly cosmopolitan genera, Eumeces and Elaphe, have also undergone revision. Brandley et al. (2005) resurrected the genus Plestiodon for the clade containing the North American skinks and Utiger et al. (2002) placed the North American ratsnakes of the genus Elaphe into the resurrected genus Pantherophis.

A study of the phylogeny of the racers restricted the genus Coluber to the New World and also included the coachwhip and whipsnakes of the genus Masticophis (Nagy et al. 2004). Also, Reeder et al. (2002) concluded from their phylogenetic study that the genus Cnemidophorus was not a monophyletic assemblage. They presented evidence that species in North America represent a distinct clade and reassigned all U.S. species to the resurrected genus Aspidoscelis.

Leache and Reeder (2002) restricted Sceloporus undulatus to the Eastern United States. Missouri populations formerly considered S. u. hyacinthinus are now placed in S. consobrinus. Starkey et al. (2003) determined that Southern painted turtles represented a distinct genetic lineage and elevated Chrysemys dorsalis to a full species.

Gamble et al. (2008) provided molecular evidence that cricket frogs roughly north and west of the Ohio / Mississippi River valleys, including all of Missouri, should be considered a distinct species, Acris blanchardi. The common name Blanchard's Cricket Frog is adopted for this species.

Bonett and Chippindale (2004) examined the relationship among members of the Eurycea multiplicata complex. They corroborated the conclusion of Thornhill (1990) that Missouri populations assigned to E. m. griseogaster were conspecific with E. tynerensis. Further, they found that the genus Typhlotriton did not show sufficient differentiation from sister taxon E. tynerensis to justify recognition and recommended synonymizing it with Eurycea.

Lemmon et al. (2007) examined the distributions of North American trilling chorus frogs based on genetics and determined that Missouri populations formerly assigned to the Western chorus frog, Pseudacris triseriata, were actually the Boreal chorus frog, P. maculata, and confirmed that the Upland chorus frog, P. feriarum, of the Mississippi Lowlands was a valid species. In addition, a new species of chorus frog, P. fouquettei, has been identified from the interior highlands and western coastal plain (Lemmon et al. 2008). Currently this species is known from two localities in Missouri. Nearby Ozark Plateau localities have been tentatively assigned to P. feriarum but are likely to be reassigned to this new species pending further investigation.

Crother et al. (2011) examined foxsnakes throughout their range and determined that the previously recognized species is composed of eastern and western haplotypes, historically separated by a combination of the Mississippi River and past glaciation events. While it is obvious that foxsnakes in northwest Missouri can be assigned to the western form, the situation in the eastern part of the state is less clear. At least one specimen from southeast Iowa, near the Missouri border, was assigned to the eastern form. Despite their assertion that the Mississippi River formed a barrier, the authors also included the Saint Louis region in their range map for the eastern species, although no specimens from that area were included in their analysis. Thus, we tentatively treat all populations in eastern Missouri along the Mississippi River as the Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis vulpinus) and all populations in western Missouri along the Missouri River as the newly described Western Foxsnake (P. ramspotti). Further study of this species complex within Missouri is needed.

Using mitochondrial DNA in a range-wide examination of the Lampropeltis getula complex, Pyron and Burbrink (2009) recovered five lineages that they recognized as distinct species. The central lineage, found west of the Mississippi River, was assigned the name of the subspecies widely known in Missouri (Speckled Kingsnake) and is now known as L. holbrooki. More recently, we discovered two black kingsnakes (L. nigra) in southeast Missouri (Edmond and Daniel 2014). Because of dramatic shifts in the Mississippi River channel during the Pleistocene, a significant portion of southeast Missouri (i.e., Crowley's Ridge and east) was previously found on the eastern side of the river. Anderson considered at least some specimens in southeast Missouri as hybrids with the speckled kingsnake (Anderson 1965). Thus, the kingsnakes found in that part of the state are likely black kingsnakes or hybrids with L. holbrooki.

Massasaugas in Missouri have persisted only in isolated populations since historical times. Anderson (1965) assigned eastern Missouri populations to Sistrurus catenatus catenatus, western populations to Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus, and considered animals in the north central part of the state to be hybrids. Recent genetic evidence suggests this taxon actually consists of two distinct species (Kubatko et al. 2011). All extant Missouri populations, including Anderson's intergrades, are readily assigned to the western massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus) (Gibbs et al. 2011). Unfortunately, animals from eastern Missouri populations have not been found in more than 75 years, making genetic analysis impossible. We elect to follow Anderson and assign these likely extirpated populations to the eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus).

See Table 1 for a list of taxa that have changed since Johnson (2000). See the Field Guide Reference list for a comprehensive comparison of current and former names among three commonly-used sources.

Common Names

Table 2: List of Missouri common names for species that differ from Crother et al. (2012). Click on the column headings to sort by that column.
Missouri Common NameSpecies Common Name
Broad-banded WatersnakeSouthern Watersnake
Central NewtEastern Newt
Eastern CoachwhipCoachwhip
Eastern Spiny SoftshellSpiny Softshell
Midland Smooth SoftshellSmooth Softshell
Mississippi Mud TurtleEastern Mud Turtle
Northern Crawfish FrogCrawfish Frog
Northern Red-bellied SnakeRed-bellied Snake
Northern Rough GreensnakeRough Greensnake
Northern ScarletsnakeScarletsnake
Orange-striped RibbonsnakeWestern Ribbonsnake
Ouachita Map TurtleSouthern Map Turtle
Prairie KingsnakeYellow-bellied Kingsnake
Red MilksnakeMilksnake
Red-eared SliderPond Slider
Southern Coal SkinkCoal Skink
Three-toed Box TurtleEastern Box Turtle
Variable GroundsnakeWestern Groundsnake
Western Chicken TurtleChicken Turtle
Western CottonmouthCottonmouth
Western Lesser SirenLesser Siren
Western MudsnakeRed-bellied Mudsnake
Western Painted TurtlePainted Turtle
Western Pygmy RattlesnakePygmy Rattlesnake
Western Slender Glass LizardSlender Glass Lizard
Western Smooth EarthsnakeSmooth Earthsnake

We do not recognize subspecies in this project for various reasons, but have chosen to use some subspecies common names for clarity. Starting with the 2013 edition of the Atlas, we have chosen to follow Crother et al. (2012) as closely as possible, both as a taxonomic authority and the source for all common names. If only a single subspecies is found within the state of Missouri, we have elected to use the common name for the subspecies. If more than one subspecies is found in the state, we've chosen to use the common name for the entire species. This naming scheme more closely follows Johnson (2000) and earlier publications.

See Table 2 for a list of common names used in this project and how they differ from the names adopted by Crother et al. (2012).

New Species

Several species of reptiles and amphibians have recently been added to Missouri's herpetofauna. As described above, there are now three species of chorus frogs (Pseudacris feriarum, P. fouquettei, P. maculata) that replaced P. triseriata (which is no longer known from Missouri), a new foxsnake (Pantherophis ramspotti), a new kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra), and a new massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus). Furthermore, two species of non-native lizards are now considered established in Missouri: the Mediterranean Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus) and the Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus).

In addition, Johnson (2000) considered three species of snakes extirpated from the state. Two of these, Kirtland's Snake (Clonophis kirtlandii) and Dusty Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon gloydi), have been rediscovered in Missouri. The Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis) does not have recent records or known extant populations but we retain it as part of the project to meet our goals of documenting all historical records. These three species were included in Johnson's "Species of Possible Occurrence" section. Note that the Dusty Hog-nosed Snake was considered a subspecies of the Plains Hog-nosed Snake, Heterodon nasicus, at the time.

Potential Species

The following eastern species could potentially be found along Crowley's Ridge in southeastern Missouri. This elevated portion of the bootheel was once situated on the eastern side of the Mississippi River and thus could still harbor species that are normally thought to be east of that natural barrier. Indeed, many eastern species of vascular plants are known from Crowley's Ridge even though they are not found elsewhere in Missouri (Steyermark 1963). Some of these species have already been found along Crowley's Ridge in Arkansas (Trauth et al. 2004).

The following prairie species should be sought in the prairies of southwestern Missouri. They have been found in Oklahoma and Kansas, not far from the Missouri border.

The following coastal plains species could be found in the Mississippi alluvial plain in southeastern Missouri. They are currently known from across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

The following species might eventually be found in the southwestern Ozarks of Missouri. It is currently known from Arkansas, not far from the state line. Some historical records of this species, long considered erroneous, are known from Stone County, Missouri.

Literature Cited