Phylogenetic position of Lycodon gongshan Vogel and Luo, 2011, a snake endemic to China (Reptilia: Colubridae)

Lycodon gongshan Vogel and Luo, 2011 is a newly described snake species that is endemic to southwestern China. Based on two mtDNA gene fragments and two nuclear genes, a molecular phylogeny for the genus Lycodon was reconstructed and the systematic position of L. gongshan was evaluated. The results revealed that L. gongshan formed a strongly supported monophyletic clade with L. fasciatus, and (L. cavernicolus + L. butleri), although the relationships among them were unresolved. The close genetic relationship between L. gongshan and L. fasciatus is consistent with hypotheses based on morphological data. Additionally two specimens from Guangdong, previously identified as L. fasciatus, showed a sister relationship with L. liuchengchaoiwith low genetic difference, indicating that the two specimens were misidentified, and illustrating that L. liuchengchaoi may have much broader distribution than previous thought.