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January 10, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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January 10, 2014
 

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They may have begun from small founding population BY JERRY ROBERTS Researchers could announce as early as this winter that the Catalina Island version of the Southern Pacific : rattlesnake has enough differences from the mainland version of the serpent to declare it a separate subspecies. "We're on the verge of perhaps doing that, but just can't at this point," says William K. Hayes, Ph.D., of the Department of Earth and Biological Sciences at Loma Linda University. "We're waiting for Carl Person to finish his dis- sertation, and he's still doing DNA testing." Hayes and Person presented their findings so far under the title "Santa Catalina's Overlooked Rattlesnake: Ecology, Venom Composition, Historical Origin, and Unanswered Questions" at the Catalina Island Conservancy symposium last ye/~r. Hayes, Person and colleagues Eric C. K. Gren and Wayne Kelln have noticed that the Catalina rattlesnake is distinguished from the mainland version of Southern Pacific rattler by its tendency to. strike without warning. Most rat- tiers do rattle when disturbed, vir- tually warning potential victims of a pending assault by fangs. The Catalina version goes right for the chomp. "Catalina individuals are also Catalina Rattlesnake - The Island's version of the Southern Pacific rattier could be named a distinct subspecies all its own. Conservancy file photo but not all mainland populations. Neurotoxicity is damage to the brain and nervous system from toxic chemicals, which are present in some snake poisons. The analysis also suggests that the Catalina rattlesnakes "began from a very small founding popu- lation, probably resulting from a 'sweepstakes' dispersal over water, since Catalina has never been con- nected to the mainland" Unlike the other Channel Islands, which broke from the California coast over many millennia, Catalina rose from the ocean floor. Further analysis suggests that this isolated Island rattler popu- less likely to rattle when_ threat- lation represents a relict or sur- ened, but are more inclined to bite vlwng population of the "origP when defending themselves," the nal" Southern Pacific rattlesnake, Loma Linda report states. The Catalina population lacks neurotoxicity, according to the report, which occurs among some known to science as Crotalus oreganus helleri. Catalina's rattle- snake possibly arrived, according to the report, during the Pliocene Epoch or between 5.3 and 2.5 January I0 - January 16 Shows Nightly at 7:30pm Rated PG-13 Admission: Adult $15.00, Senior or Child $13.00 Matinee - Saturday & Thursday 4:30pm Admission: Adult $10.00, Senior or Child $8.00 Every Tuesday $8.00 Admission million years ago via that 'sweep- stakes' dispersal, probably riding debris. "Catalina specimens exhibit some morphological differences from the mainland population in blotch pattern and scalation," the report states. The blotches refer to the brownish-black dark mark- ings down the snake's back, sepa- rated by lighter-colored bordering. Scalation refers to the arrange- ment - size, direction, number - of scales on a reptile (or fish). Hayes said that the Catalina snake differs so much physically from the mainland version that these morphological differences on their own are almost enough to declare the Island version a sepa- rate subspecies. Hayes and Person said that many questions remain to be answered about the Catalina population, including: Without congeneric com- petitors, does the Island popula- tion experience ecologi.cal release, occupying more habitats and tak- ing a broader range of prey than the mainland population? Do temperature differ- ences from the mainland result in different periods, of activity .that influence frequency of encounters with humans? "Does the mari- time environment, which is usu- ally cooler and foggier, influence the snake in significant ways?" Basketball team con- cludes preseason schedule BY COACH STEVE HALL The Avalon Basketball team . has- concluded its preseason the losing'end in 11 of their 12 preseason games. There is no doubt that the Lancers have been playing against some tough competition but they still seem to be battling more with themselves than with their opponents. The Lancers need to improve in many areas of the *schedule and hopes to find green- game but this is a very young lr 1 squad, so things should only get er pastures in the" eague play. " , ~~-s~s~s~ better. Hopefully we wot)t have but because they cannot main- to walt tall next year to see tlae tain their quality play for all four ~mprovement. " quarters they have come out on Junior swingman Danny Hays said. *- Can variation in the venom be linked to preferred prey or prey diversity? Hays suggested that the "com- mon garden experiment" would be of value - feed the Catalina snakes the same as the mainland Southern Pacific individuals and see what similarities and differ- ences result. "Our highest priority, howev- eft' Hays.said, "will be to use this population to study incipient spe- ciation. We can sequence various parts of the nuclear genome, with emphasis on SINEs, LINEs, and methylation patterns, and com- pare these with their mainland counterparts." In genetic research, SINES refers to Short Interspersed Nuclear Element Sequence and LINES are Long Interspersed Nuclear Element Sequences. Both sequences in DNA research help delineate species differences and instances of sameness. The Southern Pacific rattler, like all rattlesnakes, is in the fam- ily of pit vipers or Crotalinae. It is Catalina's only venomous snake. Jim6nez has been a positive force for the Lancers all season long. He is averaging 18 points a game and managed to score 39 points in Avalon's lone victory over Pacific Ridge Academy. This is the most points scored by a Lancers hoopster in the last 25: Years and there is no doubt that this was a game for the ages. Congratulations Danny! Those also worth mentioning are Oscar Bastida and Ernesto Gomez, who have shown moments of greatness Basketball, Page 7 NEWSPAPER A KILLER WAY TO ADVERTISE 6 ! Friday, January 10, 2014 THE CATALINA ISLANDER