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Old 05-06-2022, 12:59 PM   #1
Locality Question

Is there any sort of standard for what "locality" means. I thought it used to mean a unique looking phase is from X region of the country and that's why it's worth mentioning the locale so we can breed for X trait to accentuate it.

Is there a point in just slapping a locality label on a reptile even if it's just a generic representation of the species? Because I feel like I see that a decent amount.
Old 05-06-2022, 01:18 PM   #2
Socratic Monologue
Well, literally 'locality' means that the animal or its progenitors were from a certain collection area (however narrowly 'area' is considered). Locality has nothing conceptually to do with appearance.

Two specimens of differing localities won't necessarily be visually distinguishable (for example, many localities of Lichanura trivirgata are indistinguishable). And a specific morphology may or may not be restricted to a certain location. So, practically speaking locality and appearance are not very closely related in any simple way.

To answer your last question, there are indeed good reasons to identify the locality of a visually typical specimen or line when the collection locale is known. One is that as species delineations no longer depend on visual determinants (species determinations are now largely made on the basis of genetic distinctions, not visual distinctions), knowing the locale of an animal may now or in the future have bearing on what species it is. A real world case of this is the former Lampropeltis pyromelana that are found in the extreme southern US; (some of?) these are now L. knoblochi, though they look like pyros.

Another is that locality info may be useful for purposes of outcrossing, in cases where there is reason to believe that a certain population is best not crossed with some other population. This differs by species, of course, but it may not currently be known whether a certain species has regionally distinct populations or not, so future projects may depend on having locality information.

A bit of a late edit to add: many keepers of locality animals would be very resistant to the practice of "breed(ing) for X trait to accentuate it"; many keepers think that artificial selection sort of negates some of the value of locality animals, which are what they are because of natural selection. Such artificial selection is quite impossible to avoid entirely, of course, since there are numerous factors aside from 'trait X' that go into choosing a breeding pair, but all those other factors are also selected artificially (that is, by human intention whether conscious or not).

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